Myka 9 doesn't just rap
to the beat of his own drum. The best analogy I can give you is that
Myka decided to study with a tribe of indigenous people from (insert
country or territory here) who had passed down drum making techniques
for generations, perhaps even centuries, and after years learning from
the masteres he fashioned his own drum. He used it for a while, found
himself unhappy with the results, set fire to it and started over again.
Myka goes his own way to a degree that even "cult following" doesn't
adequately describe anybody who stuck with him for the last 25 years.
Even the most ardent fans would have had at least one
"What the FUCK is wrong
with this dude?" album in their collection by now if not 2-3.
He's challenging. He's unconventional. He's unapologetic. He's 9.
"Sovereign Soul" finds Myka returning to one of his most fruitful
partnerships with Canadian producer
Factor. There are some partnerships that just work, because no matter
how unorthdox the rapper, the producer knows how to provide a sonic
landscape that pulls out his best work - a good example being
KutMasta Kurt and Kool Keith.
When Factor throws in the LL Cool J samples on "Hard Hit" from the
hip-hop classic Rock the Bells, it fits like a glove - and yet the track that
immediately follows "Ode to Cosmosis" is anything other than a b-boy
head nodder. He collaborates with Abstract Rude and Moka Only,
two of the few artists who can claim to be as unorthodox as he is,
and yet this song fits Myka 9 perfectly too. Rare is the producer
like Factor who can make every unorthdox change sound just right.
Collaborations are not the exception to the rule on "Sovereign Soul,"
and this is another thing that benefits Myka 9 greatly. His throwback
1980's style rap on "Heaven Up" is tempered by the fact Johanna
Phraze and JNaturaL join him on the cut. Elusive underground hip-hop
favorite ERULE makes a rare appearance on "Indigeneous Areas,"
which is in itself indicative of the kind of respect Myka 9 garners.
"I'm Myka 9 with four more mics on this one rap" opens "5 Mikes"
and he's as good as his word - Open Mike Eagle, Mykill Miers,
Mic King and Myk Mansun all join him on this massive posse cut.
Even the album's more tripped out songs benefit from guest stars,
like Astronautalis and Ceschi appearing on "Bask In These Rays."
Even as I offer Myka 9 these words of praise, for choosing the
right producer to collaborate with and the right guests to work with,
I'd be failing you the reader if I didn't give you the flipside of his
coin. For somebody who has engaged in the craft of emceeing for
such a long time span, it's often stunning to me how little Myka 9
cares for his own diction and how much he mushes his words
together. "Bask In These Rays" makes the point better than any
other song on the album, when his arguably obscure guests do a
better job of ripping the mic than he does. Myka 9 makes you do
work just to get to his words, and at times the effort feels so
overwhelming one would rather not bother. On the other hand
when he comes across clear on songs like "In So Far As We Know"
he's definitely making a case for being a legend in hip-hop, one
who (allegedly) even ghostwrote songs on "N.W.A. and the Posse."
Is that true? I can't say for sure, but I can surely say that Myka 9
is better with Factor than without.
Music Vibes: 7.5 of 10
Lyric Vibes: 6 of 10TOTAL Vibes: 7 of 10