Since the crew’s formation in 1998, Army of the Pharaohs has become one of the go-to posses for hardcore rap. Like their contemporaries in the Boot Camp Clik, affiliates of Army of the Pharaohs fill their records with sometimes clever tough-guy battle raps over orchestral, epic beats. And, like Boot Camp Clik certain emcees are in another league while others simply fill space or provide brief moments of brilliance. That is where King Syze comes in.
On The Labor Union, the follow-up to his 2006 debut Syzemology, he declares that the 13 tracks within represent his rebirth, his comeback. He carries that message throughout the album, spitting with his Fat Joe/Big Pun-esque flow that he cannot and will not lose. And although he doesn’t technically take the L on here, it would be inaccurate to say that King Syze wins. His delivery, which is surprisingly smooth and not as abrasive as his fellow Pharaohs, is solid, but it doesn’t demand your attention. Even on stellar tracks like “Play Ya Part (P.Y.P)”, “Labor Union”, and “Cement Work”, the King can sometimes lose you. It’s only on the fantastic “That’s How You Rap” that he flexes his lyrical muscles and unique wordplay.
But there are far too many dull and less inspiring cuts like “Creep Show” and “Pain” that become snoozers during a repeated listen. And those tracks are what weigh down an otherwise decent album. Even though AotP lovers will certainly pick this up without hesitation, any newcomers should sample King Syze first.
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// Notes from the Road
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