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24 August, 2005@12:00 am

   With the exception of Eminem, most battle rappers have difficulty translating their rhymes into something that is enjoyable for a full length album.  Unlike battling, which relies mostly on witty one-liners, creating an album often requires a concept.  While C-Rayz’s championship battling skills are displayed on his second Def Jux full-length recording, The Year of the Beast, the lack of cohesion and conceptual material results in a barely decent album from a pretty good rapper.

    Considering C-Rayz’s history, it comes as no surprise that the strongest cut on the album is the Belief produced “Pink”, featuring Jean Grae on the hook, which allows C-Rayz to dismantle pseudo-gangsta rappers with battle style lyrics like “All the thugs I know is really into calmness/ While you wanna walk by and scream Onyx” and “You ain’t bout it/ But since you frontin’ ain’t got no limit/ I see your future/ You about to die in it”.  Belief also comes through on the gritty “Street Reppin”, featuring Vordul Mega, with a beat seemingly tailor made for Pretty Toney that
should keep the necks moving for the entire four minutes. 

    The producer lends his talents once more on  “Music Take Ovah” featuring Pudge where C-Rayz shows a more conscious side with lines like “80,000 dollar for a chain you sick/ It only costs 10,000 for a barbershop where you can employ your click/ Thats just sheisty selfishness” .  On “Black Soap” featuring M-1 of Dead Presidents, C-Rayz delivers gems like “Fear of a Black Planet and black economy/ I tried to get job but my sideburns was stoppin’ me/ Am I too strong? I use to wonder?/ Or is it the digits of my social security number?” and “If the noose around your neck got you moody and broke/ Then you know why we all pump peruvian coke” that aptly match M-1′s style.  Unfortunately these songs are forays for C-Rayz who
mostly reverts back to his comfort zone with one liners.

    Aside from a few stand-outs it is hard to distinguish most of the songs from each other.  Part of the problem is the similarly mediocre beats from a plethora of produces, but mostly its C-Rayz’s reliance on non-sequiturs.  Lines like “But I won’t dumb it down to double my dollars/ I’d rather piss on your lawn than leave a puddle in my boxers” from the El-P assisted “First Words Worse” and “Its getting pretty cooky in here/ You want to be my friend and buy me beer?/ Get the fuck outta here” from “Say Werd” show a lack of creativity and wit that should not plague a
tested battle rapper.

    At times its easy to see why C-Rayz could be talented enough to defeat Supernatural, but those moments are too far and few in between.  It is simply too hard to make a whole album revolving around punch lines (ask Canibus), and while he does have some polished songs
he could use some more. 

  Mixtape D.L.
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