Vigilantee :: No Jaangle Movement :: Phatahdat Records
as reviewed by Tom Doggett

The anti-commercial rap perspective has become as muddled and mundane as the radio rap that it attempts to indict. Any semblance of forward progress is frequently lost because rappers are more concerned with tearing down the perceived culprits than actually providing their own solutions. Political rap is a tricky thing to begin with, because while others are actually serving the community and giving help, rappers simply rap about the problems. I don't really want to hear about what is wrong; I've heard it all before. Attacking the culprits can only do so much, and it creates more negative energy than hope.

I suspect that Vigilantee really liked the idea of being a positive force in his community, so he slapped together an album that loosely resembled the other conscious rap he has been exposed to. There are many problems with "No Jaangle Movement." The first is that he is not a very good rapper. He has a hard time staying on beat, and the production is not complex or unorthodox enough for this to be understandable. A couple of freestyle interludes hint at hidden talent, but in the fully conceived songs, there are no remnants of this. Aside from his technical struggles, he also doesn't have much to say.

The record starts out in bizarre fashion with a beatbox intro entitled "Zipitee Do," featuring Vigilantee talking about Michael Jackson, among other things. Unfortunately, it is also the most sure he sounds of himself on the whole disc. "No Jaangle (The Mission)" is driven by an inconspicuous beat, and his emotive lyrics are the most visible aspect of the track. He uses a lot of buzzwords like "hope," "faith," and broad concepts like "kids' minds being corrupted," but he fails to illustrate exactly what he is talking about. Throughout the album, he juxtaposes the dire situation his community is in with the hope of eventual success. He does not define either of these extremes specifically, however. "My Ghetto (The Wrong Side)" has a more explanatory title, but he does not elaborate. The hook is vague, throwing clichés around the word "ghetto" without saying anything new:

"Kids having kids in the ghetto
Father's on crack in the ghetto
Drug dealers and killers hang out in the ghetto
Hustlers shoot dice in the ghetto"

On "Psychedelic Madness," Vigilantee begins to reveal a perspective, briefly discussing his birthplace in Georgia. He soon sinks back into admonishing 24 inch rims and gun toting on the same song, though, and the hook's endless repeating of "psych-o-delic madness" does not help matters. "Club Music Pt. 1" is perplexing, as he tries to make a statement about the state of music geared for the clubs. He asks "you want a club jam? Well here we go!" before the hook, indicating that this is the new breed of conscious club music. The only way the song separates itself from the rest of the record is a slightly accelerated tempo and a hint of Rockwilder synths, so the message is confusing. I don't know if he is trying to mock club music or create his own, but regardless, the song is very skippable.

Throughout all of this, Vigilantee struggles to sound natural on the mic. He doesn't really have a flow, and his staggered voice makes it obvious how hard he is working to stay with the beat. "Soulflo" is the easiest listen, but this is only because he forgets completely about the beat, choosing instead to blaze his own trail through the song with no rhythmic guidance. The result of this is that there appear to be two different elements thrown on top of each other without regard for their complementary qualities. "Good Girl Gone Bad" is his only real attempt at specificity, represented in a tired tale of a woman's descent into immorality. Aside from his painful attempts to maintain rhythm, the story is not told in any detail. The girl he describes could have been anyone, and even if this was his intent, it makes for quite an uninteresting listen. He tries to tell the same story twice and vary the conclusions, but his narration is so imprecise that this aspect is barely understandable, and the song is simply not at all compelling.

The production is unified in its mediocrity. Similar elements seem to have been used on multiple tracks, with somber strings running through several songs along with a touch of keyboards. The entire album's music is subdued enough that if a superior emcee had been riding along, his voice would be magnified favorably. Since Vigilantee is not a good rapper, technically or in terms of subject matter, the flaws in the simplistic production are more visible.

Vigilantee is already handicapped because he does not sound at ease over drums, and his dull and ineffective attacks on the problems of the black community are trivialized when he claims that he'll "pop your spine with one verse." Instead of offering his opinion on what should be done, or even analyzing the problems more deeply, he jumps between bland, repetitive statements about "gang violence, black on black crime" and his own confrontational battle rhymes. And these battle rhymes are especially painful in light of how obviously deficient he is as an emcee. There is nothing unique or even skillful about this record; the music is spotless and dull and Vigilantee has no real idea of what he wants to say. Until he cuts through the bullshit to offer his own perspective, his voice will never gain importance.

Music Vibes: 5 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 3 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 4 of 10

Originally posted: December 27, 2005