Mighty Joseph: Empire State

While the underground collectively waits for the rumoured follow-up to Cannibal

Ox’s seminal debut album Cold Vein, one half of the progressive Hip-Hop duo, Vast Aire has teamed with long-time friend and collaborator Karneige. They put forth some solid post-millennium product that bridges the gap between gritty street tales and a paranoid view of the future in NYC after 9/11. With numerous references to gorillas, King Kong and as well as their name giving a nod to a certain movie starring an ape; Mighty Joseph are clearly looking to climb to the top of the Rap heap with Empire State (Urchin Studios) and beat their chests lyrically over some solid production.

The album features a list of producers and MC’s such as Murs, Vordul Mega,

Poison Pen, Madlib and J-Zone who all inject some extra flavor into this fresh release.

Vast and Karneige come out strong over a menacing King-Kong-ish stomp on the album opener “The Uprising.” Both bully the mic with Vast Aire staking his claim for topping N.Y.’s best dressed underground rapper list, “I don’t care what you talk / I am the supreme King New York / Raccoon hat, sheepskin coat, Playboy sweater / Wow, isn’t that dope?”

While this release does feature some of the apocalyptic production that made both

Cold Vein and Vast’s solo project Look Mom No Hands albums to cop; if you were looking for a slightly different flavor; the beats on Empire State are a little more varied.

One example is the bouncy, futuristic beat chock full of sound bites from old-school videogames that Madlib provides on “Legend.” Vast takes the reigns solo as he delivers a vivid street report over the blunted soundscape.

The only tracks that don’t quite wind into the tapestry include the Murs assisted “The Dark Ages;” the usually tight emcee sounds disinterested on his possibly phoned-in verse. Additionally “Nightlife” features a clumsy beat drowned out with unnecessary vocal effects, which end up suffocating Karniege and Vast Aire.

Overall, the debut release dropped by Mighty Joseph proves to be a refreshing listen amongst all of the other forgettable noise masquerading as Hip-Hop. If there was a Hip-Hop Zoo and there was a gorilla exhibit, you’d surely find Mighty Joseph occupying that space with a confident strut and a ferocious growl. Be careful not to feed the animals however. Not because it’s dangerous, but because they’re already full-from eating other lame emcees.

Mighty Joseph