Some rap groups are in desperate need of an image makeover. It should be all about the music, really it should be, but it is difficult to overlook a large, middle-aged, white man, wearing a down parka jacket with a fur collar. To literally top it all off--what looks to be a Shriner hat, but surely it is supposed to be something much cooler than that. This is what G-Clef Da Mad Komposa dons on the cover of his first self-produced album in years. His fellow emcee partner rocks more typical hip-hop inspired gear with the backwards cap over a doo-rag. This contrast is so painfully obvious when looking at the hysterical cover that it is almost difficult to even think that anyone would consider purchasing the new album, "Queens Hall of Science", at a local CD store. It is a shame. Their music offers a lot of original ideas, compositions and foresight that is worth at least a listen or two, especially for those who seek a raw, underground, type of sound.
One cannot blame G-Clef Da Mad Komposa too much. He has been around the rap scene for a long time and is considered to have helped establish jazz and Italiano productions in Hip-Hop music. He certainly never reached the popularity of many others that these sounds are associated with. "Queens Hall of Science" does not try to do a lot to change that, as he seems to find his comfort zone in surprising samples that do not necessarily result in a pop sound.
"You Suck", the first noteworthy track on the album, offers frantic, screeching, violins akin to beats you may hear on a Jedi Mind Tricks album. The lyrics are not as precise, but similarly aggressive to Vinnie Paz's on this particular track, as G-Clef and Meta trade lines to conclude the song:
"I be shooting solar flares at ya hair
Eat ya porridge, kill goldilocks and murda the three bears
Like I care? Y'all niggaz is cold markin' time
I'm cold marking space, fuck the human race!
Race for the cure! Shut da fuck up!
This da voice of Jesus
For you there is no salvation!
Pupil dilation - I'm pointin' needles at your iris
Whether ya Irish, Italian, or Polish
It doesn't matter, in this universe ya smellin' like ya homeless
I'm leaving all you fake rappers poem-less"
It is by this overdramatic vibe that this semi-conceptual album tries to thrive. As you can tell from the above excerpt, some of the lyricism is questionable. The bars do not rhyme often, do not have solid consistent structure or relate to one another very well. However, the groundwork for certain themes are set with this song.
Take into account just the titles of several tracks on "Queens Hall of Science" and you have what seems like the darker portions of the Christian bible. "Sixteen Crucified Messiahs", "Godz and Masonz" "Requiem for the Fallen", and "March of the Damned" are the glaring examples of this. "What If God Was a Girl?" is a good example of how the duo raises interesting ideas, but fail to fully flesh them out. The only part of the track that that emulates the title is the line leading into the chorus. Rather than delving deep into this question, the Lost Secret crew simply keeps intensely spitting their random assortment of words.
Luckily to be successful in creating a nice beat a producer only needs to loop a short sample or sound. Therefore, G-Clef is much more successful in constructing musical compositions. There is a wide variety of influence that G-Clef draws from, from the Spanish guitars of "Sicilian Kombat" (er...Sicilian guitars?) to the rock sample on the previously noted "Requiem for the Fallen." The absolute highlight is saved for last as "End of the Beginning" starts off with a wild choir chant and kicks into deep, organ tones, which Mobb Deep would enlist on some of their earlier work.
Both G-Clef and Metatron are on about the same level on the mic. Metatron has a less grating voice so he probably has the edge. In actuality, the best work comes from a few of the guests on the album, specifically Wu-affiliate Buddha Monk and Storm (of the Soul Kid Klik, which G-Clef founded). Storm's verse on "Sicilian Kombat" is less predictable than the headliners:
"I be the Donna Corleona smokin' emcees like bologna
Slingin' provolona from New York to California
So-called rap capo's bang wit dis, you don't wanna
End up cold trauma - unrecognizable by ya Mama
I'm a five alarma, my veins pump drama
I even flip shit on that revengeful bitch karma
Rat bastard - I spit the deadliest linguini
I take it to the afterlife like Michael did Barzini
I send all my regards to all of you fuckin' traders
Fuck sleeping with the fishes, I'ma feed 'em to the gators
So now you know I'm holding the mic down style-Mafioso
The true black Sicilian who brought light to Palermo
La Costra Nostra- yeah, this thing is ours
Storm the Godmother of the 16 bars
Even fam can end up like Fredo in the harbor
Violate blood honor - get biffed out by the Donna!"
She sounds more like a teenage male rapper, like an A+ or Shyheim in their heyday. The Wu-Tang feel is apparent on this song as well as others and they bring this to the forefront when they close the following track with the words "protect ya neck, nigga." Some may have high hopes for another special guest, Ced Gee (of Ultramagnetic MC's), but he does not sound like he has been honing his game since you heard from him last. Nonetheless the more artists that join in, the more a given track gets revived with new life.
When Lost Secret sticks with the trife and raw music and enlist the help of others the album finds a good tide. Sometimes Metatron and G-Clef can be overbearing - G-Clef arguably overshadows the presence of Metatron because of longer verses and, of course, the production notes. Though their music has its own characteristics, the problem this group will have in moving units is a result of the image by which they present themselves. As much as that shouldn't matter--it does.
Music Vibes: 8 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 5.5 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 6.5 of 10
Originally posted: November 13, 2007