posted February 13, 2008 12:06:51 PM CST | 30 comments

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It is an interesting thing to note the evolution of emceeing since the early days of Hip Hop music. During the pre-radio years, the rapper was secondary to the DJ - helping to keep the crowd moving hypnotically to the tunes blasting from the massive speakers. With the arrival of powerhouse rhymesayers like LL Cool J, Big Daddy Kane and (most notably) Rakim in the mid '80s, the art of emceeing has been taken to a whole another level - ultimately surpassing the coveted role of the turntablist as being the main entity in rap music. In addition to eclipsing the "selecktas" in notoriety, stage presence and musical contribution, rappers like Jay-Z, Ice Cube and 50 Cent have catapulted their status as emcees towards greater success by transforming into leaders in both business and finance.

On Carnage, Bronx-bred rapper Chaundon promises to solidify his charismatic presence and establish his lyrical dominance in the dog-eat-dog world of rap music. The Justus League affiliate injects the album's soul-inflected songs with a myriad of energetic punch lines, colorful metaphors and impressive wordplay. Beyond the album's display of Chaundon's brilliant lyricism, Chaundon wants the money, power and respect that are given to more established emcees who also share a similar drive, passion and hunger. Nevertheless, the New York wordsmith's latest effort proves that his aching desire for individual achievement can be at odds with his innate ability to make musical magic with other like-minded rappers.

As evidenced by the predominance of guest collaborations, the Bronx emcee is at his best and most inspired when he decides to share the spotlight and combine the strength of his lyrical energies with other formidable Hip Hop vocalists. "Three Kings" is a great posse track, with the rapper trading clever verses with Torae and Skyzoo over thunderous drums and a triumphant horn sample. On "Gone," femcee Jean Grae ups the lyrical ante by providing a much-needed Yin to Chaundon's ferocious Yang in a cautionary tale of murder, betrayal and infidelity. It is witty and entertaining as it is shocking and profound. "We Are Here" (featuring G.O.D., Sha Stimuli and DV Alias Khryst) is another stellar display of the Bronx native's knack for bringing the heat when collaborating with other rappers of his caliber and finds the four of them waxing poetically about the desire for worldly fame and fortune while trying to remain true to themselves, their family and their chosen art form.

These days, the job of rapping can provide endless opportunities for individual growth and achievement, especially for those cats who are more than confident in their lyrical abilities and driven by the need to succeed. On his latest full-length, Carnage, the Hunts Point native appears to have the necessary tools to make it big on his own but he shines the most when he shares his musical output with other creative lyricists. In other words, Chaundon might do extremely well by aligning himself in a group with other talented emcees that will allow him to prove his individual worth and further develop his poetic talents to the fullest.

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