Elemental Emcee was once “among Atlanta’s most feared battle emcees”, according to his bio. That’s easy to imagine from his style, beginning right with the a capella title track that kicks off the album. There he rhymes in slow-motion, annunciating each word clearly. He wants you to hear every well-chosen word, to feel the impact of each syllable as it leaves his mouth. It’s easy to see him wowing a crowd with a well-chosen diss, to take an opponent down with clearly-stated words instead of style. On the flip side, though, what ends up happening on that a capella track is we quickly notice the off rhymes and the moments when his delivery is awkward. While the former stand out less when there’s music behind him, the latter is even more accentuated, mostly because the beats are never strong enough to capture our attention away from his stilted delivery and unexceptional style. The ideas in his rhymes are nothing new or all that interesting, either, which doesn’t help. By the time Krs-One shows up three-fourths of the way through the album, my attention span for Elemental Emcee has been zapped entirely. I don’t even hear him on that track, I just hear Krs-One, and remember why he’s considered one of the greatest MCs of all time.
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// Notes from the Road
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