“Da Dirty Harry Gun Faculty” is the companion piece to “Prince Akeem Jewelz”. Both 2019 releases are solo forays by Clever 1 and Him-Lo, respectively, the two rhyme slingers that make up Da Buze Bruvaz, a grungy Philadelphia duo that has been quite prolific in recent times.
For the time being, Da Buze Bruvaz operate at a modest level of exposure, but they wisely invest in recognizable artwork and solid beats. For opener “Callahan”, producer Obvious Bane tinkers around with a revving rock guitar rhythm that really kicks into gear when an apocalyptic choir enters the scene and the rapper’s own coarse cutthroat voice takes the track in a stranglehold. Or maybe that’s the wrong imagery since Clever 1 holds everyone at gun-point:
“Six hollow heads cocked in the cylinder
The echo made a sound from a four-block perimeter
Push you to the end of the credits like you watchin’ cinema
What’s the ballistics?
The serial number’s been scratched off whenever Clever’s pullin’ the bisquits
Chrome 45th hit you from distance
Leave the back of your dome smokin’ like I lit a incense”
On “Russian Ru’let” Obvious Bane directs an ominous dirge while the rapper stays determined to resolve any standoff with a shootout: “About to light that ass up like charcoal / Where I’m gon’ put you they gon’ find you – at the crossroads”. The song is also proof that Clev is able to keep a steady aim when it comes to his writing when bars such as “Committin’ suicide but it ain’t no noose hung / Spin the wheel, cock the hammer back and shoot one” refer back to the title.
“Massive Shooting Attackz” is the video single, but in accordance with Cole James Cash’s b-movie sampling, this one lacks finesse. It’s quite tricky to advance lyrical gunplay in a serious manner, to strike a balance between playful and intimidating. A line like “I’ll even shoot your bitch in the back of her head while she suckin’ your dick” is neither, and neither is it befitting a rapper who calls himself Clever 1.
The Philly representative sticks to his guns, the impact often depending on the beat selection. Giallo Point provides a more clean-cut smooth criminal groove for “Silent Bulletz”, while Amen stays in a familiar lane with muscular street hop with a soulful side for “Riot Pumpz” (featuring Him-Lo and Brooklyn’s Ruste Juxx). Definitely not cutting it is DJ Tee’s homemade beat for “Sudden Impact” that goes nowhere sound-wise.
Clever 1 himself has a knack for production, as evidenced by his action-packed beat for “Aggravated Assault” and the Gladys Knight flip “Unlicensed to Carry”, where he ventures to sport a more relaxed flow, revealing himself as being one of the urbanites who helped turn Polo from sportswear into streetwear and claiming seniority by describing himself as “a decorated vet (…) from the golden age”.
On “Da Dirty Harry Gun Faculty” Clever 1 brandishes strictly big guns, type “I’m in the yard with target practice while aimin’ at beer mugs / Tackleberry, blow your head off”. He strong-arms his way through these tracks, and that’s not something to be mad at. What he lacks is character motivation. You’ll be looking in vain for anything that would explain why he does what he does. That’s okay, too, but it does stand in the way of greatness. For current old-style hardcore rappers who are able to explain themselves sufficiently, two MC’s who both happen to come out of Coney Island come to my mind – Torae and Nems.
Considering the rapper’s efficiency (“Da Dirty Harry Gun Faculty” was released merely months after a full-length project with Giallo Point, “Kiss Da Converse”), chances are, Clever 1’s pen probes deeper and farther than it does here. For what it is, the collage of musical and verbal ammo, movie samples and unimposing hooks is worth a spin or two. He exceeds expectations when he takes his ballistic battle raps to the world of cartoons (“Transformerz”) or joins forces with fellow rhyme fighters (“Fantastic 4 Fiftz” featuring Driz Lo, Eklipz tha 5th Letta and Him-Lo). “C.H.I.P.” finally is a surprisingly substantial finale, giving it straight to a former affiliate who squandered his talent on drugs. A clever way for the rapper to assert his own seriousness.