Army of the Pharoahs

The Torture Papers

posted April 24, 2006 12:00:00 AM CDT | 9 comments

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The Army of the Pharoahs has developed a pretty good reputation in the underground scene considering that they've only ever released one single. It helps that they've got a big crew and boast some pretty recognizable names in Apathy, Celph-Titled, Jedi Mind Tricks and 7L & Esoteric. Either way, The Torture Papers comes with the ol' "highly anticipated" label attached to it.

The 13 song album is pretty much just what you'd expect, or at least what I expected. The beats are epic and sweeping, shit that could score a roman gladiator battle mixed with dudes who obviously grew up listening to DJ Premier and Large Professor. This is well exemplified in the massive 9 man "Battle Cry" over panic-stricken strings or the ridiculously hard hitting title track. Also meeting expectation; Demigodz Apathy and Celph-Titled steal the show at every turn; Esoteric sounds really dope 'til you realize his flow is basically the same every 16 minus a slight disguise; Vinnie Paz spits gravel but still can't rhyme for shit ("I'm slightly disturbed/Pazienza is nice with the words/that's the reason that I'm fly like the life of a bird"); Outerspace, Reef and Chief Kamachi continue to improve and King Syze, Des Devious and Faez One struggle to make an identity in the massive clik.

Backed by a troop of largely unknown producers (Shuko, DC The Midi Alien, Undefined, The White Shadow, Loptimist, Rain, Oaks), the Army does little more than their trademark over-the-top battle raps. The raps may be rather one dimensional, but you know what you're getting and at least they do it really well, so it's all good. Among those of particular dopeness is the White Shadow produced "Narrow Grave," which sports a ridiculously ill beat. "Henry the 8th" keeps the head nodding and the moody "Pull the Pins Out" is just bodied by Celph and Eso. "Tear It Down," in all its Primoesque glory, is stolen by Reef The Lost Cause. As is the touching "Into The Arms of Angels" by Vinnie Paz, who delivers maybe the verse of his career.

The Torture Papers didn't re-write the book on Hip Hop by any means, but it is a rock solid album that should get repeat spins for most of the year. For the sense of name recognition the album is billed as a Jedi Mind Tricks Presents project, which is odd considering uber-producer Stoupe is nowhere to be found (Paz is all over it though). Despite his absence, Stoupe influence is buried deep in the album as multiple beats could easily pass as his. I still can't believe he didn't produce "Narrow Grave." Even without him, AOTP bring a plague of fire.

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