Turf War Syndrome

Artist: T-K.A.S.HTitle: Turf War SyndromeRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Paine

Bay area radio listeners may know T-K.A.S.H. from his radio show, “The Friday Night Vibe.” Others may remember K.A.S.H. from “Pork and Beef” and “Ghetto Manifesto” on The Coup’s re-entry album, Party Music. Now aligned with the revolutionary rap legend Paris, Turf War Syndrome (Guerilla Funk) arrives to mix gangsterism with wisdom to reflection on society’s ills in 2006.

In terms of speaking to the streets, T-K.A.S.H. succeeds in what so many of his peers fall short on. “Something To Me”, like several other songs, touch on the absent resources in many neighborhoods, the lies in government office, and the senseless violence that occurs as a result of both. Turf War Syndrome is highly opinionated. “How To Get Ass” is the most aversive of the status quo. The record punfully attacks the president’s prerogatives while criticizing youth culture’s draw towards sexual images. In a nut shell, K.A.S.H. says, “I don’t wanna freak these whores/I’d rather put money together for a speaking tour.”

Bay Area veteran Paris supplies the music on Turf War Syndrome. Like his early 90’s work, this music is very referential. “Made in America” alludes to Mobb Deep, as “How To Get Ass” revisits a Schoolly D classic. Other times, without relying on familiar sounds, Paris creates bouncy tracks such as “Stay Away”, an atmospheric organ arrangement with melodic production that would appease Dr. Dre’s nod-factor. Despite its various influences, the choruses are a weaker area of the album. “Last Real Hustlers”, a hard moment of street revelation, is interrupted with a crooned chorus that doesn’t mesh with the music or the theme. These minor leaps are expected in a debut album. But a forced chorus cannot destroy the depth within the verses.

If Hyphy is about “getting dumb”, Turf War Syndrome is just the opposite. With music that brings a little of Southern California a few hundred miles north, T-K.A.S.H. has a great canvas to tell his messages. His rhymes are simple, but his teachings are deep. This record parallels recent work from Grandmaster Caz in its approach to fundamental educated music. But as Caz educates listeners on Hip-Hop’s origins, K.A.S.H. speaks to those in the struggle, looking for exits signs.