A strong Internet following is a strange phenomenon: persons can become famous in a field, yet be unknowns elsewhere. This can be said for underground Hip Hop champion MF Doom. After spending years reading about Hip Hop on my computer, it does seem to me that he is a “celebrity”. Yet, I was very surprised when in 2004 he gained some actual mainstream fame for the critically acclaimed “Madvillainy”.
MF Doom is so influential that even though he has never experienced any substantial commercial success, he has artists following in his footsteps. Lone Ninja is a case in point. Everything about his new LP “Burnt Sector” is reminiscent of Metal Fingers. He wears a sinister costume on his promotional pictures. He delivers monotonous flows filled with cryptic lyrics in all of his songs. Everything from MF Doom’s blueprint is covered.
Aside from Doom, Lone Ninja main inspiration seems to be the Wu-Tang Clan. Fans of Clan members like Gza and Masta Killa will be familiar with Lone Ninja’s rapping style. The emphasis is on lyricism, with no work being done toward any kind of charisma. Not bad but not great, he flows well on all the songs on “Burnt Sector”.
Lord Gamma is the sole producer of the album, so a core sound can be definitely discerned. All the beats are made of dark samples and subtle drum kits, akin to certain Wu-Tang songs (e.g. “Can It Be All So Simple”) and most of MF Doom’s. Generally, he shows consistency. Most of the tracks on “Burnt Sector” have interesting elements but ultimately, they all feel underproduced and repetitive.
The mix is the album’s major flaw. The music is supposed to be atmospheric, but it is not the case. The vocals, the drums, the music, everything sounds lifeless and cheap. Moreover, the vocals are too loud throughout. The songs are mixed and mastered by Lone Ninja himself: he should have outsourced this part of the process. The mix is so bad it keeps the album from being enjoyable.
With more intricate music and a much better mix, Lone Ninja could possibly take MF Doom’s approach to the next level. It is definitely a Hip Hop style that deserves to be explored and elevated. This is a product that consumers have shown an interest in, yet no artist has had significant commercial success in that lane. With some improvements, perhaps that artist could be Lone Ninja.