Early in 2001, RapReviewer Noixe concluded his piece on the Knowa Lazarus EP "The Conception" with these words:
"I would highly recommend going to KnowaLazarus.com and grabbing a few of these cuts, so you can brag to all your friends that you heard him first before this cat gets hot and blows up nationally. If you like the freebies show your love and purchase his CD."
With his first full-length up for inspection, Knowa Lazarus has once again a CD to sell and takes his first shot at gaining recognition outside his Queens, NY turf. After issuing his "Misssion Statement" (which digs a little deeper than your average intro), Knowa dives head first into his own theme song, "I Be Knowa". While 'Knowa' stands for knowledge (something he apparently attaches great value to), 'Lazarus' symbolizes his rebirth after several ill-fated moves in the rap biz. Despite referencing two Biblical names in his moniker, Knowa Lazarus spreads his very own gospel: "For the proctection of the public I'm locked in this booth / cause in a world of lies I provide the truth." Expectations for "Let the Truth Be Told" rise when he adds, "I don't rap in the booth, I use it for confession," but make sure you fully enjoy the excellent "I Be Knowa", ringing with the same type of oriental bells that Swizz Beatz and company rocked a few seasons ago.
Excercising a very physical presence on the mic (sometimes reminiscent of L.L. Cool J, sometimes of Eminem), Knowa delivers several thought-provoking songs. In "S.I.C.C. (Sometimes I Can't Cope)" he vents off his frustration with everything from his rap dream ("I'm sick of rap, sick of music / I'm about to lose it / sick of writin', sick of spittin' when nobody listens") to his student life ("I'm sick of college / I'm sick of havin' knowledge / and bein' broke with no paper in my wallet / I'm sick of workin' hard with no rewards / not able to buy moms a house or a car"). "Be a Star" relates the days of his youth, how he grew up as a Filipino-American and how his big mouth eventually made him become a rapper.
The songs get even better when Knowa shifts the focus from himself to the outside world. For "Lee" he flips the "Dear Mama" script and talks about his mother's life BEFORE she had him. "Be Careful What You Ask For" tells classic cautionary tales. But the most inspiring selections have to be "Right Now" and "Shadiness", both standing out due to a very committed delivery and an adamantly positive message.
For the final third of "Let the Truth Be Told", KL opens up his album to his Q-York Senate folks, but his party and posse tracks are not exactly what's happening. Their repetitive nature is relieved by some Latin sprinkles, but it's just not enough to hide the fact that the pitfalls of a keyboard-based sound could not always be avoided on this album. Almost entired handled by Q-York Senate members T.H.E. Menace and Flavamatikz, the production varies between air-tight and disjointed, an interesting detail being that the more serious the rapper, the better the production.
Although the few commercial joints unnecessarily jeopardize the good impression this project gives off, "Let the Truth Be Told" is well worth a listen and definitely better than a lot of independent rap albums.
Music Vibes: 6 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 7 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 6.5 of 10
Originally posted: July 30, 2002