Chief Kamachi :: Cult Status :: Good Hands/Eastern Conference Records
as reviewed by James Corne

Anybody named fucking Chief Kamachi isn’t looking for Ashanti advocates and “106 and Park” fanatics. So all of you prepubescent socialites and tittieless teenagers go pick the pizza out of your food-imbedded braces and keep checking the Bad Boy bracket for you-know-who, this one’s not for you. Now who do we have left…anti-pop activists, anger management flunkies, and recent pink-slip recipients- check, check and check. Alright it’s time to delve into the dark side.

After hooking up with the vile Vinnie Paz and Jedi Mind Tricks to record a few chipper tracks like “Divine Evil” and “The Deer Hunter,” Kamachi just wasn’t satisfied with merely flirting with decadence, he had to have the whole shebang. So woefully low on Valiums and flat out of hugs, he embarks out in “Cult Status” to prove he’s not a MC to mess with.

And he does. Maybe it’s the possibility that the Chief will tomahawk me with a microphone if I don’t comply, but “Cult Status” is ferocious- in a good way. Kamachi ravages each track till there is no meat left on the mic. He bites mics in half. Everything about this guy is irate, even his raspy voice sounds like he just devoured some small, hairy animal whole. But what’s this? He spits a little science out in-between feedings? It seems this heathen has been hitting the books and wants everybody to know about it.

“I’m live from the infernal regions
I’m here for eternal reasons
These classics I’m breathen’
When I die don’t casket the heathen
Power contained in these ashes I’m leavin’
I’m a street Christ to rise over the hood in the evening”

From the “1st Lesson” to the last track, Kamachi just can’t stop proclaiming himself a street deity. Now self-worshiping rappers are nothing novel, we’ve all heard the Wu-Tanged slang title “God” before; but the Chief fervently believes you should be worshiping him in addition to his man in the mirror, and incessantly hammers his self-righteous, religious rhetoric down your throat through “Cult Status.” Under the guise of conscious constituency, “Cult Status” pretends to enlighten and Kamachi acts ingenious. Problem is, he’s a messiah with no message. Other than a few social-focused lines accidentally scattered about, (and “#13” gets an E for effort) Kamachi spends 90% of his proverbial verses preaching about himself and how great he is, and the left over worrying about his fictitious followers.

Not to say his scholarly arrogance ruins the ride. “The Edge” couldn’t be stopped if you sedated it with Tyson tranquilizers. “This Man” is solid all around as it continues to pleasantly swell the middling torso of the album. Also, “The Best” is delightfully demented, sporting a screeching Psycho sample and Gangstarr’s Guru for street support. Kamachi gets sick and sinister but it’s the cleverly contrasted calm flow of Guru that steals the thunder.

“Yo I’m humble and calm
But I still rumble and bomb
And any Gay-Z lazy rapper
I crumble in my palm
They play roles and could never rock me
I’m well connected, well protected and I rock Kamachi
Bout to take ours back from the culture stealers
Cuz we’ll never see power unless we let our culture heal us
The strongest people call us the soul survivors
So beware of the burning sands and the molten lava”

However, all the campaigning and Christ comparisons continue to run unchecked. By the time you hit “Haten on my Halo”, “Cult Status” begins to resemble a real cult. A group blindly led by the ego of one man. His introspective ignorance collides with his arrogance on “Liberated Wax” when he blusters “ya’ll niggas is fuckin’ stupid” as homely as possible.

I guess I’m just tired of these anti-pop rappers thinking that just because they fall in the “indie” category at the record store that they are automatically profits. I not saying reading is and upping your vocabulary is futile, I’m just saying use a hungry mind to feed more than your ego. Kamachi impresses with vivid imagery and decrepit descriptions. But utterly chafes his emancipating intentions by reiterating Rap’s rhetoric of disdainful aristocracy. A sad cycle of rappers, debunking each other to get ahead themselves, only to be pushed back down by someone else, a gigantic dog pile where no one gets the ball buried underneath, the point buried under bodies in the street.

As the GZA said, “I'm not caught up in politics; I'm no black activist on a so-called scholar's dick.” If you wish to collectively elevate your audience, or whet them away from coma-ville, just think about what you say and what you insinuate in your raps.

“Cult Status” is invigorating nevertheless. The Chief is evidently irate about something…or everything, and fortunately it makes for vivacious vocals. Musically, if “Cult Status” was left all to its lonesome, it would flatline before the production paramedics could call Dr. Dre to palpitate it back to life. But Chief Kamachi is just too damn ferocious to let this album flop. It’s at least worth the blood pressure to pop in pre-riot, before a Tyson fight (Old Tyson), or really any violent event that commands un-directed animosity. Bottom line: If you’re an angry mother fucker, buy “Cult Status.”

Music Vibes: 6 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 8 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 7 of 10

Originally posted: August 24, 2004