Hailing from the City of Brotherly Love (that’s Philly for you know-nots), the V.I.Kings view their mission as equivalent to the Nordic legends who terrorized the seas; except their ocean is the world of hip-hop. So let’s set sail.
Vocally Blacknifficent, Dye Nasty, and VHS are eerily reminiscent of The L.O.X. – in fact their own press kit refers to this similarity. This might be problematic were it not for the nasty beats of this five song EP, especially the first three tracks by Steel Curtain Productions. In fact, when you hear the violins of “Is it All Lethal?” you may in fact picture a dark and dreary pre-glasnost Russia. “Cocksucka” is a more bouncy, Dirty South style track with that triple-cadence rhymestyle in full effect. Quite frankly, I don’t really like hearing East coast rappers try to rhyme this way, but the V.I.Kings at least don’t embarass themselves on it.
The production and rhymes of “How You Feel?” is a little less banging. Basix simplistic shuffle beat and tinny underproduced pianos sound like an early Wu-Tang demo without any of the RZA’s gritty charm. The rappers are telling a thug story of “money get rinsed and your team get pinched” with typical punchlines like “you couldn’t score on a fast break with no players.” This album’s beginning and ending are really the strong points. The opener “Issues” is moody, has a catchy chorus, and a beat that would make ‘D-Dot’ Angelettie jealous. The closer “Yeeooooo!” is a demented twist that mixes Kwest Tha Madd Lad’s “Skin Care” with Black Rob’s “Whoa!” – if you don’t catch it, just imagine that anything nasty is either edited out or replaced with the sound effect of the song title.
V.I.Kings have a professional EP and a good sound, but could be relegated to opening shows in Philadelphia for their stylistic inspiration The L.O.X. if they don’t push it to the next level. Professional rhymes, good beats, and a nice flow are in effect but that just puts them in the same league as Mic Geronimo, Cella Dwellas, and a hundred other ALMOSTblew up rappers and groups. You can’t fault them for solid credentials and music but sadly in today’s industry you need a gimmick or an incredible smash beat to get over – for better or worse.