Imperial Letters of Protection


    Years ago, Busta Rhymes and other conspiracy-theorist emcees were convinced the year 2K would bring things to a crashing end. Somehow Busta managed to get over the disappointment and make records after Extinction Level Event, and the conspiracy emcees, well, continued to talk about shadow governments and freemasons. The ghosts of sci-fi apocalyptic groups such as Jedi Mind Tricks and Company Flow inhabit NMS (Nephilim Modulation Sessions), and for good reason: Bigg Jus, the emcee who wasn’t El-P from CoFlow, makes up one half of the group, along with left coast rap manipulator Orko Elohiem.


    Of course, in a country passing intrusive laws such as the Patriot Act, who’s to argue with conspiracy theorists? The Bush administration forms much of the inspiration for Imperial Letters of Protection‘s themes. When things come together, such as on “Seraphim Revolver,” the album homes in with stunning precision; over a piano and rolling drums, the two emcees hit topics such as the monopolization of media companies, Strom Thurmond’s illegitimate daughter, the filling of prisons with African Americans, and Bush’s “victorious” flight suit.


    Unfortunately, this track reveals a rare clarity. The rest of the album gets mired with obfuscated lyrics that aren’t only off beat, they’re also rattled off so fast it’s as though the emcees are racing the beat to the finish line. Production far too often sounds noisy for noise’s sake (thrash guitar in grimy underground production has been played out). Some inspired touches exist, such as sampling Air‘s Virgin Suicides score on the media critique “Beast Vision,” but the potential importance of this production lays buried like UFOs under the pyramids.


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