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C-Rayz Walz – Year of the Beast

The first thing you notice about the new C-Rayz Walz record is all the collabo’s (featuring El-P, Jean Grae, M-1 from Dead Prez, and more). Not knocking the hustle, because the records sound good! And, of all the people that you can have on your album, those are some of the cream…but, C-Rayz is one guy that doesn’t need any helping hands. He can handle the microphone fine all on his own.

That being said, lets break it down a little, shall we?


“Pink,” the track featuring Jean Grae is not really a collabo at all. Jean stops by to help out on the hook, as Walz commences to wax poetic about all those fake thug (and real thug alike) MC’s who be having the nerve to catch wreck on the m-i-c. In other words, do music or do murders, man; you can’t have it both ways. “CareFree,” (featuring Jeanine) is another in a long line of C-Rayz jewels. Creeping along on the somber keys provided by producer Khiladi, C-Rayz drops gems on those folks who view sex a little too lightly. Have you had you’re AIDs test this year?

Whoa. The beauty of a C-Rayz joint is that FAM doesn’t just sit idle on one track. Feel me? Like Outkast, he’s not content to just ride what made him hot. That’s part of the reason why he burned all of his rhyme books for this outing; all tracks are fresh off the presses for this effort. “SayWerd” is some old school boom bap with a silky bass piece that has the undisputed battle emcee dropping verbal barrages for all the unannointed; if you don’t know, now ya know: “One of the sickest MC’s since Eazy E/ Say word/ Say letter/ Say you nice/ Say I’m better”. ’Nuff said.

“BlackOut” (featuring The Angel & The Preacher) is a rock-backed track in the vein of Mos Def and Black Jack Johnson that has Walz turning the tables on the whole color identity thing. The hook transposes the idea that nowadays too many people take stereotypes to the extreme such that those hip-hop kids like Eminem think they must be black to be down; likewise, any black person that has good sense must want to be white. Imagine that. “BlackSoap” is a little smoother than the Dead Prez joints you might be used to, but it still packs that afro-centric ideology. You know how M-1 does; and C-Rayz goes toe for toe.

If you are not yet familiar with the wizardry that is C-Rayz Walz, Year of the Beast is a good place to get your feet wet. Once converted, you are going to want to go out and find 2003’s Ravipops (The Substance). For those of us already familiar with this “rapper’s rapper”, this is another reason why Independent rap needs to be mainstream, yo. There’s none like the one and only, but if you like Aesop Rock, Cannibal Ox or Sage Francis, then you need to be up on this cat. C-Rayz Walz: “he eats, sleeps,…” fuck it, he is hip-hop!


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