Killah Priest :: I Killed the Devil Last Night ::
as reviewed by John-Michael Bond

The Wu-Tang Clan isn't new to the concept of saying simply outlandish shit, yet current/former/whothehellcantellanymore affiliate Killah Priest has finally topped all of the Clan's previous chest thumping. Priest says he killed the Devil, and he wrote a whole record about it. You don't have to wait long for him to really get down to things and tell you the details either. The second "I Killed the Devil Last Night" starts, your ears are welcomed by a simple bar room jazz sax and Priest laying out the murderous tale with the slow thoughtful delivery of a poetry slam.

"I got something to tell y'all
You won't believe me
But I killed the devil last night
That's right, I shot 'em dead
One in his head, one in his heart
I tore his fuckin' horns apart
I killed the devil last night
And I knew it was
him cuz when he came in my room
He had a grin
And on his neck and face
Was white and black and yellow and brown and red skin
He had a bad white suit
He offered me a fruit
And his pockets were bulgin' wit alotta loot
I told 'em I been lookin' for you
I swear to God y'all, all this is true
I killed the devil last night
I shot 'em cold blooded
He looked at me, his eyes fluttered
He's gon' y'all, dead, he no longer exists
I know my baby-moms is pissed
Now we can get along and everything should be cool
All the girlfriends are confused
They don't know what to do
Cuz I killed the devil last night"

For Priest the metaphor of the Devil represents all of the evil that holds down himself and his listeners, be it drug abuse, poverty, or anything else that seems too powerful to throw off your back.

"I am the Bible covered by the Qur'an
Kill Satan, yeah I did it, I'll admit it
It was nothin', he was frontin'
He has no power except what we give 'em
Ourselves and ourselves we devour
Again he has no powers
I did it and you could too
Just look for him, don't run from him
Just do like I do
Stare 'em in his face
Face-to-face, let's go
Toe-to-toe, blow-for-blow
You can't hurt me no more"

It's a thoughtful opener and concept to base a record around, but Killah Priest has always been a thoughtful MC. Equal parts gun fire and religious scholarship the rhymes he's spit in the past have woven religious metaphors and references to the Nation of God's and Earth's faith structure with gritty street tales. If Ghostface is the Wu's Marvin Gaye than Killah Priest is the fan base's Al Green, keeping contact with God and the streets.

"I Killed the Devil Last Night" follows the influence of evil in Priest's life, opening when Priest has destroyed the evil in his life then flashing back to the his youth when he first started running with the devil. The "devil" tracks keep the poetry slam aspect alive and well, with the focus being more on allowing the power of the words to shine than riding beat. Fans looking for bangers will be disappointed by the thoughtful and often depression soaked content of these dark tracks, but those looking for insight into an under rated MC's psyche will relish the intellectual meat here.

Outside of the handful of poetry tracks however the album takes a more traditional yet still bleak musical path. Even the most poppy beats sound like they could've been an Omen soundtrack and listeners of "Dark Evenings in Hells Pool" are met with soul beating darkness like

"These harlots they tear at my flesh, they eat up my soul
Regarded as Job, layin' naked in the Valley of Bones
Skulls of dead woman grinnin', it's scary
Till they're crushed under the foot of a gremlin
Mother Mary, demons screamin', I said "That I am"
The all eye seein', the skies cryin', I'm freezin'
Icicles on the hairs of my nostrils
The Apostle, light-years, I was there like a fossil
Flood's the blood, mixed in the dirt
Made red mud, slush of guts
I wanna stand up or pull back by sluts"

Musically "I Killed the Devil Last Night" has a griminess to each song and beat that leaves the listener looking over their shoulder for either a demon or a goon looking to end them. While it lacks the violence of records like the Geto Boys "We Can't Be Stopped" it shares that record's overwhelming feeling of dread that kicks in before the first word is even spoken. Such darkness leaves even traditional topics like not getting one's proper props from the rap community ("Don't Stop") with a backdrop of incredible anger and force. And it's where this tape stumbles.

Simply put the spiritually terrifying and uplifting "devil" tracks lose power when their subtle horror movie beats and jazz flourishes are bestowed upon Priest's strong, but intellectually inferior traditional cuts. It's a minor complaint, but one that affects the power of the tape as a whole. However Priest has delivered a solid record worth your hard earned dollars, and given it to you for free. Enjoy the brain food, and save this one for a rainy day.

Music Vibes: 6 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 7 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 6.5 of 10

Originally posted: August 25, 2009