If you were as vocally hard as Big Daddy Kane and spiritually deep as Martin Luther King Jr., your name would be go-rin-no-sho too. If those syllables confuse you, Troupe Records says that this artist is a.k.a. Strategy.
In a previous life (or if you prefer earlier career) this soldier for Christ was known as Chilly T; and was a DJ/MC at the Mobil One and Two Discos in East New York. Since the hip-hop credentials are already established; the only challenge left for Strategy is to get notoriously fickle rap music consumers to peep something that appeals to a higher power when the current trend in rap is to "Bling Bling" your wealth and brag about yourself.
To his credit, Strategy holds up his end of the proposition by dropping funky raps like "One + One" which tells a very Kool G. Rap-esque tale of the hardcore streets, without the hardcore obscenity. The spirituality is couched in reality and Strategy's voice is nicely reminiscent of the X-Clan's own Brother J before him.
Musically the album holds up nicely as well. "The Game" has a flowing beat and harmonizing vocals which make it sound eeriley like an unreleased Tupac track. "The Flow" has a snappy handclap and simple effective three key oriented bassline. "Friend or Foe" is dope too but could be accused of ripping off a 70's funk riff; and it might have been wise to choose a song-title that Jay-Z hadn't already claimed lock, stock and barrel.
Following in the tradition of other positively oriented rappers such as Braille and the Grits, go-rin-no-sho may be the best of his genre to come along yet. Unfortunately his very consistancy on this album may also be his curse - no single song comes across as a breakout hit. For the simple fact Strategy proves you can be positive without being wack or corny though, he deserves props. 'sho may just be the first "gospel" rapper of the 21st century to crossover; especially with a timely Pete Rock remix and a guest appearance by Reverand Run. One thing's for sure - with songs as hardcore as "Twilight Zone" he won't be confused with the simplistically sickening raps of DC Talk!
Music Vibes: 7 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 8 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 7.5 of 10
Originally posted: March 9, 2000