Artist: C-Rayz WalzTitle: We Live: The Black Samurai EPRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Shawn Lawrence James
When the lyricist known as C-Rayz Walz (pronounced see-ray-zee-walls) released his 2003 debut, Ravipops (The Substance) he instantly became the carnivorous cynosure of the indie powerhouse known as Definitive Jux. Known for its famished demeanor and an argosy of sick instrumentals, the album collected praise from the underground circuit and some encomiums love from rap critics, but failed to ring a bell with the average Hip-hop consumer. Always moving with the rhythm of consistency, the Bronx bred rapper returns with his second set We Live: The Black Samurai EP, (Definitive Jux) a guide taking listeners through the labyrinths of his NY state of mind.
Riding with a cohort of producers which includes Dub-L, and DJ Static amongst others, the album opens with an up-tempo, 20 second Opening Ceremony instrumental (which also serves as the Closing Ritual) that sounds more like a snippet from a Chinese New Years festival than to be kicking off a Rap album. The latter was proceeded with the Belief produced We Live. The track, which is a revised version from his debut, is a fine piece of work that has C Rayz hopping over stumbling drum patterns with ease while dropping jewels to anybody who is willing to listen. From the generalization of his people he concentrates his focus even further to his sistas in the struggle on the shadowy Single Mothers. This track is an instant standout because he uses incredible imagery in his signature slur to construct a landscape that almost mirrors their reality while sending out his condolences. From showing love to the baby mamas he makes the conscious decision to walk around with one of his own on the boy-meets-girl stamped Amore. This joint has C-Rayz showing his affectionate side while spitting cheesy one liners like Guess what just came out? [What?] Your smile The tone eventually stiffens up when one is confronted with the somber 3 Card Molly where Cave Precises drums intensifies with every verse laid superjacent to C-Rayz regret ridden words that actually sounds like a eulogy reminiscing on his loved ones.
As with his last outing at mainstream, C-Rayzs sound clearly is far from universal. The eclectic mash of Rain Forever may be too complex for the average TRL teenie. But for those willing to accept his music for what its worth (including the ridiculously short beat intermissions that soak up 1/3 of the disc) The Black Samurai EP is a delicious appetizer for those craving food for thought in between his full length LPs.