There are times when you can accurately discern the music you are about to listen to by the cover art. In most cases, it’s not a good thing as played out and generic music usually comes with equally played out art work. In rare cases, accurately judging a CD by its cover is due to well designed art from an artist who pays attention to detail. Quest-Rah is such an artist. From the cool middle-eastern flair of his own logo to the detailed brick veneer that screams “old and aged,” this album’s artwork does a great job of preparing the listener for the music contained within. As other critics on this site have noted before, this is the type of music you would expect from a Wu-affiliate. Conscious lyrics with a purpose are interspersed with abstract punch lines and references. Quest Rah’s music evokes that older, boom bap style of the 1990s with religious overtones and moody exotic sounds throughout.

While Quest-Rah will likely score little vibes for creativity, he takes his art seriously and ensures his music doesn’t come off as mere imitation. The first track, “Heat” kicks things off with a dark, pounding beat and deadly serious lyrics:

“Yeah, you know the block’s heat when the punks creep
Funds run steep, peep when they crunch teeth
Inner city grief, deep when the tongues leak
A flee charge put a heart to the concrete
Heat is heat, peeps living under tyranny
Heating up inside til they take that thunder to the streets
Unleash info, wickedly techniques preparing for the journey to the six feet
Heat, death is a fact that we all know
So it ain’t about if we die, it’s how we go
Peep the real issue, it’s so official
We hit like hard hammers, you just wore a pistol”

Quest-Rah’s lyrics at times come off deceptively simple, but a closer listen reveals an emcee that puts much thought into each rhyme. “Femme Fatale” gives us a look at his story telling skills as he weaves a tale about the fairer sex:

“Now she opened up her passage
I’m a magnet to her body fragments
Fine shiny fabrics shook off maggots
Yeah, my star’s savage, no one shares son’s palace
My hearts flame chalice, I’ve become an addict
Iced about with karats, multi colored parrots
Plus trips Paris, Raise glass lavish
Yeah, she gets spoiled, I thought she’d be loyal
Til I got the call, how could she?
Out eyeing another, seeing he got more
She walked out, closed the door, left me cold, raw under
She said “I’ll do whatever’s necessary to keep gold in my belly”
My other will be smiling when you’re buried
Disillusioned, promised me a smile
but she fused it with illusion, so what’s the solution?”

Quest Rah’s skills come off best when he’s clearly focused on a topic for an entire song. His lyrics remain sharp throughout, but songs like “Legend of a Fighter, “Craftsman” and “5th Element” wear thin after the first minute due to the repetitive nature of the verses.

Overall, “Ancient Tapes Vol. 2” is a solid display of lyricism mixed with interesting production. The album’s middle eastern influenced production definitely gives it a fresh vibe and songs like “The Weak & The Strong” and “El Ijaza (Vacation)” exhibit this feature best with the middle eastern musical samples mixed with middle eastern vocals on the hooks. Quest-Rah is a worthy emcee who takes the art of lyricism seriously. He is clearly influenced by Wu-emcees, especially someone like Killah Priest, but Quest-Rah stands out due to his aggressive flow and relentless barrage of meaning infused into each line. Those who value conscious rhymes, sharp lyrics, and fresh production should come away pleased with “Ancient Tapes Vol. 2.”

Quest-Rah :: Ancient Tapes Vol. 2
6.5Overall Score