It’s a bit telling as to how overwhelming the amount of new releases there are every year when this is the first time we are covering Anybody Killa. He’s had no less than two dozen releases since 2000 but here we are and “Road Fools” is the first one on RR. It may be equally telling than in the last quarter of a century, I haven’t received one email or one request on social media for an Anybody Killa review. That means that before we proceed with this Psychopathic Records release, we need to do a deeper dive into who Killa is.

The one thing you might have expected going in is that ABK is from Detroit given his Psychopathic/ICP ties. Correct. His parents were from North Carolina but at some point they moved to Motown, and James Lowery was “raised on the East side.” This is where things take an uncomfortable turn. I don’t have the time and resources to investigate whether or not someone has native heritage, but there are too many stories online of people faking it to make it that I immediately see red flags in Lowery’s bio. There are unsubstantiated claims that he has Cherokee and Lumbee ancestry, tenuously connected to him by interviews where “his mother and his aunt” told him that he was. Maybe this happened — but what proof did they have when they told him, and what proof does he have they were right?

Let me be as clear as I can about this. I’m not saying Lowery is or isn’t a descendant of indigenous people in North America, but the optics when you read that he “performs as a Native American warrior” aren’t good. Whether you are 1% or 100% native, that’s probably not something you should be doing. I think we can all agree that some cultural traditions aren’t meant to be used for a rap persona. It’s probably to ABK’s benefit to have largely flown under the radar and not had more scrutiny directed his way. If he’s native does he want to represent his heritage to non-native people in this way, face paint and all, with tracks called “Rain Dance” and “Peace Pipe?” It’s uncomfortable to even talk about.

The truly bizarre part is that if he didn’t make a point of it we wouldn’t even have to mention it. Insane Clown Posse wear face paint. They aren’t claiming to be indigenous, so they aren’t misrepresenting anything in particular, they’re just some crazy fuckin’ rapping clowns. James Lowery could be a juggalo, a hatchet warrior, an insane circus performer, and nobody would question or or even need to. For his sake if he ever gets the microscope put to him the way people like Ward Churchill have, I hope he can back up the story of his ancestry. Mine is full of people who go from pale white to crispy fried after thirty seconds outdoors. I don’t wear face paint, I wear SPF 9000.

With all of this said is ABK any good as a rapper? He’s… average. He doesn’t commit the cardinal sins that immediately make an emcee terrible. His delivery is on time, his vocals are clear, and he’s capable of writing a narrative that makes sense. The fundamentals are all solid even if the production from the likes of Lavel and Fritz the Cat doesn’t enhance it much. Take “Are We There Yet?” for example. The songs has just enough bass and percussion to work, but there’s nothing catchy or memorable about the actual melody on the track. This is a case where sampling would’ve been a better choice.

The real appeal of “Road Fools” may have been that it originally came with a bonus DVD “featuring 80 minutes of skits, music videos and live performances.” Given the large and supportive following ICP has built over the years, that alone could propel this Anybody Killa release up the charts — which it did. The album peaked at No. 23 on Billboard’s Indie Albums list. That’s good for Mr. Lowery, that’s good for his label, that’s good for Mr. Bruce and Mr. Utsler. I respectfully submit that Psychopathic Records never intended to reach anybody outside of their target demo with this CD/DVD package, so “Road Fools” didn’t even need to be “good” per se — just good enough. That ladies and gentlemen is why in 25 years nobody has ever asked me to cover Anybody Killa. He’s neither great nor terrible. He just is.

Anybody Killa :: Road Fools
5Overall Score