Killing Fields

posted January 15, 2007 08:33:53 AM CST | 9 comments

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With Chicago Hip Hop blossoming as of late, it's only natural that underground mainstays The Molemen should get a little of the spotlight. Since the release of the Below The Ground EP in 1997, the production trio has stayed busy providing backdrops for some of the dopest in the game. With collaborations spanning coast to coast and everywhere in between it should be no surprise that Killing Fields features a cast of emcees as varied as any you've likely seen. And although they bring cats with many different styles and varied content, Panik, Memo and PNS handle all the production, which brings this together as an album very nicely.

Things kick off with a bang as Cormega and Hostyle (formerly of Screwball) kick street rhymes over the synthed out anthem of "Street Conflict." While both of the aforementioned emcees are definitely vets with a lot of credibility, a couple songs later a straight up legend makes and appearance on "Full Metal Jacket," as Kool G Rap spits a verse so incredible it would be an injustice to quote just part of it. Not to be outdone, Mass Hysteria, who also appear on the track, bring their "A" game as well rounding this out as one of the better joints on an already very dope album. There is also a slew of joints by Chicago artists including the aforementioned Mass Hysteria, Juice, Vakill and the ultra-talented Rhymefest, who previously worked with the Molemen back in '98 .

The "New York Mixtape" cross-section of Hip Hop is also represented through the gutter rhymes of Saigon and Grafh. Littles and Poison Pen also represent for the Big Apple on "QB2BK," where piercing horns serve as the driving force behind the track. Another highlight is the up-tempo "My Alien Girlfriend," featuring Felt (Slug and Murs). This funky little number is augmented by some dirty breaks and conceptual lyrics about the advantages of a girlfriend who is (literally) out of this world. However, Slug is not the only Rhymesayer on this record as Brother Ali also comes though to destroy a track called "Life Sentence." Starting with a blistering opener Ali shows no signs of slowing up throughout the entire piano infused tracks taking lazy emcees to task with lyrics like "seem to me most these dudes are car poolin' / one of ya'll do something new then you all do it / havin déjà vu they enjoy something' Jay-Z do then sample it or say it too."

Most albums have at least a few missteps, and although consistently nice, this album does stumble a couple times. The most notable is "One Shot, One Kill," a really mixtape-sounding joint featuring Mike Treese (of Mass Hysteria), who spits battle lyrics over an incredibly generic synth beat. Luckily, that particular joint only clocks in at 1:36. In the end, this album is helped a lot by the interlude instrumentals "Up To Par," "Vague Ultimatum" and "Love Kills War," done by Panik, Memo and PNS respectively. These interludes serve as a great way to dividing the album so that you get a little bit of everything in between. Choosing a best song would be nearly impossible on this album due to the variety of styles, and this diversity also helps this record appeal to audiences mainstream as well as subterranean. Killing Fields is a perfect name for this album, both for it's plethora of battle-ready rhymes and as a metaphor for the tracks said rhymes are spit over.

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