Review: Endemic Emerald & Skanks – “Rapsploitation”(Album)

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Hip Hop as both a culture & genre has long been exploited by corporations looking to make a quick buck over a lifestyle they will never fully comprehend. Sonic Superman, Endemic Emerald, and Bankai Fam Mic Assassin, Skanks The Rap Martyr, override the establishment by liberating the music from the boardroom to bring it back to the streets on a boom bap masterpiece titled “Rapsploitation!”

The duo set the stage with a snippet of a prominent Peter Tosh interview on the “Rapsploitation” (Intro) that addresses the dilution or eradication of a song’s more hardcore elements as a way of fitting into the milquetoast rotation of commercial radio playlists. Could it be that the music is too Black for them? The Reggae icon had serious plans to upend the industry and ignite a revolution to lay waste to the mainstream…but unfortunately his life was cut short before he could complete his mission. Luckily we have Skanks to pick up where he left off! The BK visionary does so admirably with break-neck bars that eschew fly by night trends & social media hype in favor of pure lyricism!

“You gone learn”(featuring Shabaam Sahdeeq & Kasim Allah) possesses a gothic soundscape that wouldn’t be out of place in a classic Christopher Lee horror flick. The ominous production is just the right touch for verses that are guaranteed to strike fear in the competition! The lyricists are kings of their domain who pose a serious threat to any MC who fails to match their level of artistic excellence. They will sniff out any poseurs to the throne & have them expelled from the palace!

“Trouble”(ft. E Class Wright) is a soulful track with a fantastic piano sample & emotional hook that details police corruption and a call for unity within the black community! Will Martyr be a goner?…or can we all come together in time to ensure our future survival? “Make Believe”(ft. Berry Boo, P General & Halie Ali) contains a melodic, dream-like quality that is notable for the manner in which it contrasts with the underground spitters’ raw, truth-telling lyrics. “Everything you see ain’t always what it seems!” “Prison Riot”(ft. Rusty Juxx & Kasim Allah) is a detailed account of the penal system FROM THE INSIDE! Endemic Emerald takes an understated approach to the production duties on this particular track. The minimalist soundscape effectively allows the listener to focus on the pain, anger, and desperation of the “inmates” as they plot their escape!

“Half baked” (ft. Haz Diggs) explodes onto the scene with a blaxploitation intro and a beat so fully formed it practically stomps out your speakers and smacks you across the face like a 300lb bouncer outside an after-hours club! Skanks & Haz have the perfect synergy. Their animated interplay is a highlight of the album and in fact, THIS track will surely be regarded as a MAJOR standout! “The pain of life” stirs things up with more 70’s styled soul-drenched sonics that demand instant replay action! The laid back gem is composed of immaculate flows & production that serve as the perfect companion piece to the illustrious three minute & 47 second selection that appears before it…while the Shatike & Rim da Villain featured,”Straight Out da NYC,” pushes things to an exciting new level with a pulse-racing salute to everyone’s favorite “Rotten Apple!”

“Mercy”(ft. E Class Wright) is a humorous ode to heartbreak in the hood that pays a sonic tribute to vintage tracks from The Stylistics & Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes. In less capable hands, this type of experimentation could fail miserably. Fortunately, Endemic Emerald & Skanks execute the concept flawlessly & cement their reputation for high quality Hip Hop that can boldly veer off into unexpected but satisfying directions. “Legends Live Forever”(ft. Daddie Notch) showcases a superior display of rhyming and chatting while enlightening listeners with a heartfelt tale of “Jump Shot Dude” James Williams. The moody atmosphere present throughout the track places us in a mode of reflection while the Mic Handz featured “Serious No Joke” snaps fans out of their reverie with brash boom bap and sharp cuts to complement the unrivaled lyrical onslaught. “Omnipotent”(ft. Tragedy Khadafi) then concludes the audio extravaganza by wrapping up the entire affair with an all-powerful composition of stellar beats and rhymes ready to be embraced by true Hip Hop heads worldwide.

If you feel like Hip Hop has lost its soul, listen to a project that takes the music back to its essence. “Rapsploitation” is a sonic testament to the creative merits achieved when underground music is left untampered by corporate machinations. Endemic Emerald & Skanks keep the culture alive!

– Kevin Keith