[16 November 2006]
In the rap world, a brush with death can be the necessary fodder to turn heads, as the chart-dazzled 50 Cent and Cam’Ron have discovered in exploiting their bullet wounds. But unlike these rappers, Verbal Kent, whose throat was slashed after a performance in 2004, has focused more on the quality of his music over the exploitation of his gruesome circumstance, with his sophomore effort Move With the Walls. Where Kent succeeds is in expressing his overall outlook on life; to him, existence is fleeting and fickle, a perspective that only a survivor could possess. On the scratch-painted “Dear Diary”, Kent vocalizes this mindset in terrific lyrical banter, with lyrics like, “Pray your whole life away to take away the pain, though / It ain’t raining, but don’t blame me for the raincoat / I’m just another fool tryna play the game.” Other gritty tracks like “Life Is a Bitch With a Gun” and “The Good Die Young” further emulate this outlook, but where the album suffers is the tracks in which Kent assumes a different personality. On the gloomy “Dead Serious” featuring Ill Bill and “Trust Me”, Kent channels unwarranted violence in his lyrics, distracting the album from its basis. Fortunately, Kent is wise enough to initially digress from circumstantial manipulation, and the result is an album’s worth of psychological exploration—a feat seldom accomplished in hip-hop.