If you read Walter Mosley novels or bought the (mostly) slept-on DJ Muggs "Soul Assassins" compilation album then you're already familiar with this title; but Villainova the so-called "Foul Priest" has a whole new spin on the meaning of the title on this EP.
A politically motivated new latino artist on the hip-hop scene, Villainova has a slow-flowing style with back to the basics lyricism. The title track hits the nail on the head with an indictment of how "Rudy Guiliani runs this mob like a Mafia Don - and this mob's called the Empire Police Squad." V doesn't fear speaking out on the murder of Amadou Diallo or the inprisonment of Mumia Abu Jamal - in his own words, "to be damned by the Devil is to be truly blessed." The only problem I have with the analogy is that even though New York's finest are devils who wear blue, I wouldn't call their uniform a "dress."
Unfortunately, the title track may have this short chumpie's best production. The "broke as fuck" storytelling of "The Name" is aight but the track has a tinny ring to it. It sounds like a low-budget Yamaha mixed on a four-track - and to their credit it sounds like a WELL conceived and planned four-track and Yamaha that is just too limited in options to give the track any energy. I'd like to give it props but it sounds like any one of a hundred other demo songs from struggling rappers looking for a break - and since this isn't a demo but an actual EP for sale, I expect a little more.
Closing out with "Beaches" (which has the same production problems) and a Radio Edit of the title track, Villainova impresses with his sincerity and his Parrish Smith style "slow flow" but is really held back by the mostly amateurish sound of his tracks. Villainova could make an impact, but the Foul Priest needs to pray to the Lord above for help. It's like watching Sammy Sosa strike out on three straight at-bats: you know he could jack one out of the park at any time, but you keep getting dissapointed every time.
Music Vibes: 4 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 5 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 4.5 of 10
Originally posted: April 10, 2000