Ronny Braunstein has come a long way since launching his own label late last millenium and releasing his debut album I Need Drugs on it. The lo-fi recording was a highly promising debut which garnered him a dedicated fanbase from jump and since then that promise seems to have come to fruition. From 2004 till 2005 Mr. Braunstein even went Master P on us by dropping solo albums by Ill Bill, Mr. Hyde, Goretex, Sabac and two of his own for good measure, his personal masterpiece The Pre-Fix for Death and the sleazy ode to pornography that was The Sexorcist.
Now Death Rap is upon us, Necro’s first album in over two years and the first Psycho+Logical release to be distributed by Koch records and Abstract records. In a lot of ways this is the most professional looking album in Necro’s catalog yet. Apart from the Death Metalesque artwork the album booklet also features all the lyrics to the songs, the credits and a seemingly endless barrage of thank you’s (by Necro’s standards anyway). Where the general tone used to be buy P+L product or DIE ! Necro now chooses to express both his gratitude for all the years of support and the love he has for all his fans. It’s a minor observation but it indicates the Sexorcist’s ambition to rise above his current cult status and attempt to reach out to a bigger audience, in that regard even Necro’s posing for the picture in the booklet seems deliberate. It’s just too bad that the actual album doesn’t share the same characeristics.
First things first : Death Rap is a very solid record, period.
The best songs on the record all share a common eighties horror movie feel thanks to the eerie ominous keys and/or effective sampling, two things which have become Necro trademarks over the years. It helps Death Rap get off to a very promising start in the form of the Charles Manson storytelling track that is Creepy Crawl and also lifts tracks likeKeep On Driving (which succesfully samples the movie Daddy’s Deadly Darling), Exploitation (featuring a barnburning verse by Mr. Hyde that manages to instantly create anticipation for his next solo release), the Ill Bill assisted As Deadly As Can Be and closing track Portrait of a Death Rapper above the rest and will guarantee themselves a place on any Necro fan’s ipod.
Also evident throughout Death Rap is Necro’s growth as an emcee. His flow has become more self-assured, especially compared to the I Need Drugs days, he has become a master of cadance and multi-syllabic rhyming and in a lot of ways the album is a showcase for those qualities. The only problem is that sometimes this also causes him to fall head first into abstract backpacker territory (‘artistically, sadictically, statistically, realistically, pistol whip thee’ on the hardcore influenced Suffocated To Death By God’s Shadow or ‘sanguinary, biochemistry, chemotherapy, chemical treatment, criminal cemetary, symmatry’ from the aformentioned Exploitation). His mastery of flow also dominates the hardcore track Suffocated where he keeps pace with the breakneck rhythm laid down by Mike Smith and Steve DiGiorgio. As a showing of his skills as an emcee it’s very impressive but on it’s own the track doesn’t really work and ends up being less than the sum of it’s parts, with such a star studded supporting cast you’d expect more, the musicianship is there and Necro pulls it all together on the third verse but the first two verses come of as a course in emceeing 101. The Harley Flanagan collaboration Belligerent Gangsters doesn’t fare any better as Flanagan delivers an underwhelming performance on the hook. Which leads to one of Death Rap’s biggest problems : the overall lack of decent choruses. There are virtually no hooks worth mentioning, which in itsself wouldn’t be too much of an issue if it weren’t for the fact that very few of the songs contain more than two verses or come close to the three minute mark. It gives the album somewhat of a glorified mixtape feel, which is enhanced by Necro’s non-stop barrage of freestyle rhyming as there are virtually no storytelling tracks like Dead Body Disposal or songs that come from the artists personal experience such as Reflection of Children Coming Up In The Grave. There are some hooks on the Metal inspired joints but to be honest they tend to fall more into Spinal Tap territory than anything else, especially Evil Rules which leads the images of Dave Ellefson getting stuck in his pod should they ever take this song out on the road.
The short running time of the album, a mere 37 minutes total, along with it’s pseudo-mixtape aesthetic are in stark contrast to the album’s packaging. Maybe a couple of more verses here or there wouldn’t have hurt, neither would some more efficient hooks but as it stands…
Conslusion : Death Rap is sure to please the Necro diehards and will no doubt find it’s place in their record collection. At the same time it’s hard to recommend this album to folks who are new to the Sexorcist’s brand of musical mayhem as they might be better off checking out Gory Days or the Pre-Fix instead. Still if you’re saving up your milkmoney to buy the new Ja Rule record I’d suggest you take a chance on Death Rap regardless, it’s not a bad album at all it just could’ve been so much more.