Gravediggaz :: Nightmare in A-Minor
Label: Echo Records
Author: Steve 'Flash' Juon
"Flashback my dossier file before the hospital
Lots'll pay a pile of cheddar to see me rock my style
Got lots of smiles from man woman and child
A Gravedigga here runnin wild like the Nile
Four years out of seven I remember tourin
And this year I'm measurin my urine" --> Too Poetic/Grym Reaper
Jadakiss and Styles once rapped, "Might find your man dead in the ocean;
He be aight though - you know dead rappers get better promotion." If
that statement is literally true, then this album should be the greatest
success in the career of the Gravediggaz. After the initial success of
their debut album "6 Feep Deep" (a.k.a. "Niggamortis") they followed up
with the respectable but poorly selling "The Pick, The Sickle, and the
Shovel." Was this a case of sophomore slump? Perhaps, but they had
a strike against them from the beginning: the absence of producer
wunderkind Prince Paul. Coupled with a lack of promotion, most heads
presumed that their rap style, dubbed "horrorcore" by critics, was a
one-trick pony and lost interest in their product.
To add insult to injury, group member Too Poetic a.k.a. Grym Reaper
started to suffer from the withering effects of an invasive metastatic
cancer which ate his body from the inside out. Wrly humerous to the
bitter end, Grym Reaper dubbed himself "Tony Titanium" during his
painful chemotherapy and vowed to survive to record a solo album.
Unfortunately, his prediction proved to be false - and hip-hop lost
another of it's most talented, powerful, and ultimately fragile
rap artists. Next time you buy a 40, pour out a little on the curb
for Too Poetic - a decade long veteran of the rap game who in his
darkest hours was still giving his all for the music and the
culture that he loved.
The strength of his persona and rap flow was one of the strongest
factors in the Gravediggaz success and staying power in the
underground, even when the mainstream abandoned their music.
Together with Frukwan a.k.a. Gatekeeper but minus the now
completely absent RZA, the re-energized duo laid it all on
the line for what ultimately will be their final album. It is a
fitting testament to Poetic's life for this LP to be released
posthumously, an album of poetry firmly grounded in street
science haunted with vivid imagery of the surreal, such as
on "Guard Ya Shrine":
"I'm the soldier with the bloody red hands
These ghetto alleys become dead valleys
Snakes too shook, to show up at the rally
Self paralyzed by the thought, of bein analyzed and caught
up in lies and falsehood, it ain't all good
in New York, if you don't walk the walk
I dare fuckin parasites, to grab a mic
The Grym brings farenheit, and blinding light"
For most of the album, the production keeps up with the lyrics;
produced mostly by Poetic and Frukwan, but also featuring work
from True Master, Diamond Track, and even L.G. on the spooky
interlude "Last Man Standing." Among the best tracks are True
Master's "Burn Baby Burn" and "Nightmare in A-Minor" featuring
4th Discple and Baretta, while "Better Wake Up" and "Killin' Fields" by
Poetic or "Zig Zag Chamber" by Frukwan are equally dope.
There are sadly a small amount of reject tracks though - the
messy "Running Game" and overly simplistic "Wanna Break" both by
Frukwan aren't good enough for this final album musically. It
is also dissapointing that RZA couldn't even contribute
a track to this album let alone a single rhyme - furthering the
rumors that he split with the Gravediggaz over bad blood and
couldn't even reconcile when Poetic was on his deathbed.
"Didja know Christ is me? Reincarnated in a MC
I came to the hookers, pimps and the killers
The thievin ass niggaz, my soldiers, guerillas
Nine to five cats and drug dealers with gats
I'm P-R-O black but y'all already know that
Fuck a horrorcore, I bring holy war
Cold and raw as it bubble and ya moan through your pores
My soul soars, way above Armageddeonites"
Poetic's powerful verses as seen above on "Current Events"
prove RZA's absence on this album to be ultimately harmless.
Even though Frukwan provides excellent
verbal support as the Gatekeeper, it's the Grym Reaper who
consistantly steals the show throughout; perhaps as it
should be on this final testament to his career in rap.
It seems as though this album may languish in obscurity
though; as independent Echo Records may not have the strength or connections
their former label Gee Street did through Island or BMG.
If in fact RapReviews.com had not received the album
through the courtesy of Poetic's management firm, I might
never have heard it at all. I have never once seen it
in stores, though I hope after this review I do because
it's already available for sale in Europe.
Through the concerted effort of a great many dedicated
artists and individuals, this album is indeed a fitting
epitaph to a man whose nom de plume in Gravediggaz may
seem ironic to some. For those who really know him
the name Grym Reaper was not at all ironic - because he
only came to take life from the LIVING dead; those
who had not opened their eyes up to the truth. In the
years to come, this Gravedigga will live beyond his
own death both as an inspiration to other artists and
as the powerful voice of the ghetto that he always was.
Music Vibes: 6 of 10
Lyric Vibes: 9 of 10
TOTAL Vibes: 7.5 of 10
Originally posted: October 16, 2001