With the world in an abysmal state (War in Iraq, Hurricane Katrina, Genocide in Sudan, rioting in France, etc) it is refreshing to see 11 emcees take it upon themselves to make a statement. Enter The Reavers (Revolutionary Emcees Advocating their Views on Everyday Reality Struggles), consisting of Vordul (Cannibal Ox), Akir (XXL Unsigned Hype and Immortal Technique’s touring partner), Kong, Dom Pacino (Killarmy), Billy Woods, Hasan Salaam, Karniege (Def Jux), Spiega, Keith Masters, Priviledge and Goldenchild. Their release, Terror Firma, can be viewed as revolutionary in approach, but does the revolution translate into a great album? With so many emcees there are many questions to consider. Can all of their personalities fit in 20 tracks of music? Will it do more harm than good showcasing so much talent on one album? These questions are answered but the results are extremely average and sometimes disappointing.
It’s tough to say how and where art and life cross paths and when life intertwines with art (or vice versa) does it burden the other’s progress? These 11 emcees have come together for a concept album of sorts with worldly intentions, but at times those intentions are too large in range and in turn, bog down the album.
Akir and Karniege are both impressive, but their time on the album is so limited that you’ll find out that it just isn’t worth scanning through the tracks to find them. “Penmanship” comes off incredibly solid as Vordul, Billy Woods and Karniege take turns ripping the mic. Karniege utilizes this moment to blow the track up with his scolding hot verse but just like that…he’s gone! Akir steps up and delivers a very poignant verse on “Melody” but after leaving the mic to the lesser known artists, the track becomes lackluster. “Shadows” is more of the same as Akir and Hasan Salaam deliver on probably the best song on the album. Vordul Mega does show up a few times on the album, but he leaves the listener only yearning for the next Cannibal Ox outing.
The production on the album rears its ugly head and kills anything that could have been potentially great. Most of the time, the production plods along directionless and never compliments the artists. Songs such as “Warrior”, “Napalm” and “Scoundrels” are just inferior in approach. The production is quite difficult to listen to and really takes away any momentum the album could have had. Add that to the fact that there are just too many styles to breed any chemistry (what I’d like to call the “too many emcees not enough mics” disease) on the album and you end up with a hodgepodge of bland beats and unknown artists. After all is said and done, the concept of the album is lost in this unique mixture.
While revolutionary in concept, Terror Firma is disappointing in execution. Although there are shining moments from each of the emcees (Karniege and Akir really show off their talent) some of the plodding production and clashing of styles make you forget what these emcees came together for in the first place. This results in a great concept gone haywire, and ends up being an album with much potential, but one that lost its path.
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