As hip-hop astronomical phenomena go, Black Moon is one of the rarest sights to cross the night sky. "Total Eclipse" is only their third full-length album of original material in a decade. Their frontman and Duck Down commander-in-chief Buckshot the BDI Thug's personality seems to match their release schedule: all things in due time. When he grips the mic, it's not the blazing speed of Twista, the relatively up-tempo pace of Eminem, or even the relaxed flow of Wyclef Jean. He's somewhere around the tempo of Killah Priest, where each word seems to be carefully chosen and deliberately delivered. It's this lackadaisical pace combined with his origi-nal way of drawing out a syll-a-ble rolled up with 5 Ft. Accelerator tag-teaming rhymes and DJ Evil Dee on the wheels that give Black Moon one of the strongest cult followings in rap music, regardless of how often they release an album. Those fans will be pleased by Buckshot's mantra on Da Beatminerz produced opening track "Stay Real":
"I, stay real, never change
It's a lot of suckers who runnin this game, I'm bustin them thangs
Hard, peace God, there's no peace now
I'm here to tear the streets down, I'm here to eat now"
There's plenty to like musically on "Total Eclipse." Da Beatminers lace up many fat tracks, including the oriental influenced "That'z the Way Shit Iz," the whip cracking "That's How it Iz," a smoked out "Stoned Iz the Way" anthem Cypress Hill would be proud of, the somber "Where it Goez Wrong" and the sonic explosion of "No Way" among others. Tone Capone's smooth Shaft-like funk brings 5 Ft's short solo cut "The Fever" to a boil. Kleph Dollaz and Dan the Man bring seriously hardcore bass to "How We Do It," while DJ Static's "Confusion" evokes pleasant memories of a hip-hop classic - Jeru the Damaja's "Ain't the Devil Happy." Buckshot would have to be fire on this beat to do it justice, and he doesn't dissapoint here:
"Industry rule number ten-thousand-and-eighty
Record company niggaz are sha-deeeeeee, bay-bee
Definitely, never may-be; you'll have to be
a pain in da ass like - FUCK YOU, PAY ME
Crazy? Picture me slippin, like a broke transmission
I got both positions, I own both dimensions
I write poems for commissions
I'm the leader for da squad when da Gods in a hard predicament
Like, got a hot group but need they contracts right
Or got jerked for your publishin last fight
Now you wanna act tight, let me give you ad-vice
It don't matter if you that nice
Cause da bottom line is da kind of mind, not da kind of rhyme
Signed and sealed, delivered delivered and signed
Right now I know you wanna get yours
I'm at my prime, so I got to get mine, before I'm out my mind"
With no disrespect intended to the 5 Footer, it's always been Buck's verbals and his delivery that have been the make or break for a Black Moon album. The curious thing is that given complete artistic freedom as a solo MC, Buckshot has sometimes failed to deliver, but when put back into the group he broke into rap with in 1993 he seems perfectly at ease and at the top of his writing game. Da Beatminerz "Pressure Iz Tight" embodies his approach to the craft and his disdain for MC's lacking his style and flow:
"No way I'ma sit back
And listen to you gay niggaz chit-chat, hey Mr. Big Cat
I lay where your clique's at, no joke
If it's broke Buck'll fix that, pumped like a six-pack
Chicks love to touch me
And motherfuckers think I'm rusty or tarnished the armor, trust me
I'm just that nice - wanna cut me?
Adjust that knife or it might get ugly, cause
I'm too close to my goal to quit
Wanna fight me you might see swollen lips"
And for those who have felt the direction of Duck Down Inc. under Buck's leadership was suspect, the Coptic banger "This Goes Out to You" takes on all comers and shows that through it all, Buck's belief in himself has never changed:
"I need one-hundred percent un-divided attention
Pro-vided you mention Black Moon is back
And all the questions, like Smith-N-Wessun
changin their name to Cocoa Brovaz, did it ruin the track?
Let's think back, like the song I made, uhh
So we can reminisce on rights and all the wrongs I made, huh
Don't get it twisted, I don't regret shit
I don't remember, but I don't forget shit, that's how the game go
Thangs get harder to spit
What's real love without pain a part of the shit? Who knows
Few blow, few'll get dough
It's the reason so many rappers never move with the flow
But I've shown, that I'm prone, to keep goin"
"Total Eclipse" may not be a sonic revelation or an earth-shattering moment in the history of rap music. That's not important to Black Moon though, since they already made their mark a decade ago with "Enta Da Stage." For Buck and his group, the only thing that matters is to make good music with strong beats and rhymes for the true heads who stayed loyal through long years and few albums. Even though Black Moon only comes along once every three to five years, it's always worth the wait, and "Total Eclipse" is worth your time and money too.
Music Vibes: 8 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 8 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 8 of 10
Originally posted: November 18, 2003