If you absolutely cannot stand an accent when listening to emcees boast their rhymes you might want to stop reading now and not even consider giving Brad Strut a chance--it'd be your loss, because this album proves that Hip-Hop is a global community. Brad trades in the typical overseas synthetic beats for more brooding and hypnotic soundscapes. If Mr. Strut got his influences from anywhere in particular though, they seem to derive from the likes of Philadelphia's own Army of Pharaohs group and, fittingly, members of that super group appear on this disc. Furthermore, his own group of Lyrical Commission only reinforce this strong comparison.
"Beast on the Mic" introduces an unfamiliar listener to Brad Strut in a very nice way as the album kicks off with sinister piano keys, a snappy bass kick and precise cuts by Big Zed. Brad's first verse shows that he is what he self-describes himself to be by dropping this fairly complex verse:
"Dereclict Planets motion quickens most are sickened
They cannot fathom boa-constricted
I lift lids fuck a victim this bids underwritten
And overseen 'cuz my tongues the lynchpin
My nova dreams in this dark reality I'm a
Devoted fiend in the art of battling daily
Grinds turn into a lifetime of misery..."
The song is only one of the many tracks with a dark subject matter. This is not a feel good CD and if you are in to rap music for the party, then you will not be interested in the way the narrative of "Legend: Official" plays out.
The major quarrel most will run into when listening to this unfold is the monotony of it. In terms of subject matter Brad Strut does enough to vary it with the anti-commercialization track "Monopoly" and the posse promoting "Bounty Hunterz", however, it becomes quite apparent that he is better suited complimenting others over Trem (executive producer) and Asip & Defiant's shadowy productions. Daniel Merriweather does a good job of crooning R&B style on "Caught Up", Outerspace interact very nicely on the dramatic "Terrordome", but no one compares to the appearance by Sean Price who bodies "Automatic" with vicious lines like, "Sean Price a mother fuckin' bastard beast/With a bullet that touch kids like Catholic priests" and "Snatchin' the crown, Sean Price is king/ Get on your knees bitch! And kiss the ring." Brad Strut finds himself outshined in moments like these, but there are very few who would not be.
Nevertheless, Brad Strut brings his own sinister charm to songs like "What's the Deal?" which sounds like it has the beginning note to "Shook Ones Pt. 2". And "The Ritual" is a cult-inspired romp which seems to draw the sounds of a deep church bell as Strut lays it down with the following, well-constructed chorus:
"It's the ritual, high on the couch countin' residuals
The ritual, findin' em out, they hypocritical
It's the ritual, it's runnin' like clockwork and visuals
The ritual, the way that I rock Earth habitual
The ritual, playing on pussy like it's the pinnacle
The ritual, writing the situation is critical
The ritual, the type to be uninviting and cynical
The ritual, 'Legend: Official' killin' em clinical"
The atmospheric landscape remains true to form with the violin-driven "Incite the Premises" that follows, which just continues to help make the LP sound uniform. The only departure of this feeling is in some of the music that occasionally sounds a bit subdued.
Overall, Brad Strut and Unkut Recordings come through from the Melbourne way to deliver a solid effort. Like a masochist, the album is certainly 'dark' as described. This is too much the case, perhaps, for those looking for a track to head nod to. However, the 'complex' aspect of this album certainly makes up for those shortcomings for those who like to deconstruct lyrics for their true effect. Brad Strut a "legend"? No, probably never. "Official"? Definitely.
Music Vibes: 7.5 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 8 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 7.5 of 10
Originally posted: July 17, 2007