DX reintroduces its popular 2008 and 2009 series with Molemen's Vakill, who explains the concepts and back-stories on his hard-nosed new album, with some hilarious anecdotes and asides.
HipHopDX has revived our "Lost Liner Notes" series. In the midst of a Recession, important albums are dropping every Tuesday, and budgets often force the insert pages (if they even can have physical pressings) to be "slimmer than that chick up in Calvin Klein pantses." With important releases by Black Milk, Blu and Jedi Mind Tricks, we went ahead and sat down with the artist to give you the song-by-song insight to the album's making, inspiration and importance.
Now we're back.
On Tuesday, July 5, Illinois emcee Vakill will release his long-awaited Armor of God album. The Molemen emcee is widely known for his penmanship, lyricism and strong commentary on man, society and the state of Hip Hop. Who better to reintroduce the series than with an emcee that DX deeply respects and our readers are so often discussing in the comments, Twitter, Facebook and message boards.
The Lost Liner Notes To Armor of God by Vakill
Armor of God: "This was the track that set the tone for the album, other tracks were already recorded but when me and Panik heard this when Jake One sent it to us we knew this was a anchor for the joint, the trumpets sounded like God was comin through the stereo to me. It had been a while since i did a joint with scratches on the hook i felt it was time to bring that back into the fold on here and bring shit full circle to Darkest Cloud and Worst Fears Confirmed. The track gives off this "it's useless to try and fuck wit' us" type vibe. Like, it's dipped in armor."
Mean Mug Muzik: "There's two types of ways tracks get the official seal of approval: one is if Panik hasn't even finished the shit - meaning added drums, a bassline, [or whatever], and the sample is still nasty or two, he plays it over the phone and shit sounds murderous 'cause a lot of the shit he plays over the phone sounds like shit over the phone no matter how dope it is. 'Mean Mug' was the latter of the two. When P played it, I was like, 'There's nothin' to smile about here.' This shit is just mean, unrelenting. This the type shit you don't play for hot headed niggas that drink. This will be the soundtrack to a lot of tough times and ass-whippings in the near future, unfortunately. In the intro I said, 'This that new chicago gangsta,'...that old shit is out...that old shit don't make 'em wanna ride out no more. This is the new battery in the back of gangstas everywhere. Lyrically and sonically, this shit could make a statue stare look personal [Laughs]."
Sick Cinema: "I had been sitting on this rhyme for a minute and we actually recorded this in the earlier stages of doing Armor of God, but it had a much brighter soundscape to it. The overall vibe of Armor of God was starting to take a more sinister turn, so earlier records had to succumb to a sonic shot in the arm just to keep up with the way the album was going. I always do cinematic type records for the listeners to try and carry 'em away from just a Hop Hop record for a minute, like 'Acts of Vengeance.' This one, I wanted to be on some Twilight Zone-type shit, but in the same token, have a spiritual undertone. It's a movie we seen too many times...till you get to the end."
Heavy: "This is that straight up Hip Hop shit like 'The Creed,' but updated, originally it didn't even have any scratches... but to me it kinda commanded 'em. Lyrically, U wanted to just flip a few patterns and coast on here to show niggas Va' ain't no one-trick pony, I can structure bars in any format and flow. The crown don't move...the track is ocean breeze-smooth but rough in one sitting, like 'Creed' was, which is why 'Creed' to this day is such a huge [fan] favorite track in my discography. We never lose when we me and Panik cook up these type records...and this one actually has a bridge that slides the track right on home."
Endlesss Road "I did a tour wit' my my man Freestyle from The Arsonists, and he was playing some tracks in his hotel room during our downtime and everything was fucking fire! I was like, 'Nigga, who the fuck is this?' He like, 'This my dude from finland his name is MGI. I was like, 'Tell fam send me some shit 'cause he killing everything you playing.' MGI sure enough sent me some joints but this one jumped out at me. I had this track forever and never touched it till I felt i was ready, took the shit to Vizion's crib and he fell in love wit' the shit. Me and him just click musically so i know what he gone go hard over and what he gone fall back on. Eventually, I laid my verse sent it to him and he took it from there. The vocals in the background is my homegirl Takenya. She brought her lil' niece in the booth and she was makin' her laugh while the engineer was cueing up the track. I loved her giggle so much I put in the intro to show the innocence of a child laughter that these endless roads of violence take away in the Chi every year....powerful music."
The Apology: "My dude Joe Blow absolutely destroyed, mauled and mangled this shit! I think i had this beat for a about four or five years. It's that timeless. What I wanted to do with this basically is do what the forefathers of this gangsta shit, this gang culture couldn't do...apologize to the hood. Anybody that follows my music knows Don Nurda is a dude I created to play with on songs however I see fit... in this one he's a metaphor for the Larry Hoovers, Chief Malik's, King shory's. I just wanted to offset some of the shit that Rick Ross did wit' that ['Blowin' Money Fast'] record....[Big Meech] is tryin' to get out, that shit's not helpin' with you screamin' that shit on your hooks, B. But anyways, like I was saying, 'The Apology' was for what the good intentions turned into along the way... what people fail to realize is the era in which these gangs formed was post-Panther, so they had mitlitant mindsets and wanted to keep that presence felt in the hood. A lot of the gangs here were formed with intentions of strengthening tthe hood not breaking it down....the road to hell is always paved with good intentions. I wanted to be that voice of those brothers as they sat back and reflected on what became of what was once a show of brotherhood turned Frankenstein unbound."
Wild Wild: "My dude [Bluntologist] is from Vancouver and some may know his work from handling the bulk of the work from the Freeway one-song-a-week series he did a few years back. He a master at that soulful shit and this is exactly what I was lookin for. As soon as I heard this shit i was like,'Yeah, this that shit... that summer time Chi shit... that hit the lake shit.' But what it reminded me of most of all was the block. All I could do was think about home as I was hearing this record. This shit took me back to 118th & Lasalle in 1985...block parties, Great America bus trips, Evergreen Plaza, the old fashion donut shop, skins...this song sounded like one big soundscape to my early childhood when most of my niggas was still above ground and breathing. And i always wanted that Big L line in a hook since forever."
Beast Ballad: "Originally, this was to be a solo joint. We knew this shit was killer wether solo or collab, [Panik] was insisiting on me doin' it solo but I was like, 'Bruh, trust me it's gone sound good wit' the right emcees on this shit,' and we hadn't had any features on Armor of God up until this point so it only made sense to me. What's extra special is this was the olive branch to get [Rhymefest] and JUICE back into a workin' relationship and eliminate the strain on it...them niggas was at odds since fuckin' '97...who but me could get them on the same shit? Nobody. 'Fest heard JUICE's verse and was like, 'Nigga, you ain't tell me he was on here.' I'm like, 'Nigga, do it matter?' He [was] like, 'Aight Va', I'ma do it 'cause we brothers.' A week after the nigga laid his verse he called for JUICE's number. A few days later... the hatchet was buried. Armor. Nino [Bless] was rolling with Crooked [I] who was killing the Hip Hop Weekly [freestyle series] at the time. Nino always been in cahoots wit me on my grind, so when I asked about Crook, he was on it. [At the] same time I was hunting Crook down...Joe Budden was huntin' 'em down. I finished 'Beast Ballad' the same time Slaughterhouse presented they first track ['Slaughterhouse'] with Nino."
Appetite To Kill (N.W.A.): "We wanted to do a throwback tribute-type record but wasn't really sure what direction to actually take it in... Big Daddy Kane was being thrown around, Rakim, etc., but I was thinkin' more along the lines of what was a track back in the days that I always wanted to just annihilate? "Appetite For Destruction,"... outta every [Dr.] Dre record ever made, this one lights a fucking flamethrower under a nigga to lyrically rape shit. It always sounded like somethin' I imagined [Kool] G Rap, Rakim or Kane flowing over because they were the go-getters for that up-tempo lyrical dexterity. We recreated it and threw voice overs from some of 'em in there for homage and to school the youngin's on where this track originated...and yeah, I think Dre would be proud of what we did...killed it."
You Don't Know: "[The] track was long overdue...Blunt did the original, but Memo was like, 'G, if you tellin' [Molemen] history, it gotta be on a Mole track." True...true. Astonish got vocal skills, nigga..front if you want. I asked the boy, "Gimme some soul on it and the nigga brought it." Not many understand the many lineup changes Molemen has had over our career... we got just as many ex-members as members... like The-fucking-Temptations."
I Came For U: "Panik cooked this up this track gave Armor of God a edge a lot of my albums never had, this shit is R-A-W...live bass player, live drummer...nobody expected me to make a record like this, nobody. It's Hip Hop, Rock and overall hard-body gangsta...the marriage of instrumentation on here is foolish. This was perfect for a lead off; the set up couldn't have been better...when I wrote the first verse, I knew we was doin' a video for this. It was too visually digusting to pass up. This song is gonna have a nice snowball effect on this album...just you watch, damn it."
Armorgeddon: (Listen) "This muthafucking track bangs - and whoever disagrees has skid-marks in the front and back of their boxers. [As soon as heard it, I forwarded it to Panik and Memo, and niggas was like, 'Yeah, we wit' it"...memo talks superastronomical, King Kong shit on a daily basis. You wouldn't know it at first glance, but the nigga mouth game out weighs his frame [Laughing] I wanted somethin' different intro-wise to throw niggas a curve. You're really not sure what's about to go down when you first hear it...that's how i wanted it. And the Jay-Z hook? Who flips better Jay-Z hooks than ya boy? I'll wait..."
A Lynched Legacy: "Memo came with it [as far as the concept]...'this song was a must be done, period.' I wasn't introduced to the Willie Lynch speech till '97, and that's a long time living life not knowing a mind that diabolical [document] existed, scary. My Godfather Austin showed me that speech and asked that at some point I touched on it in a song. During that period we lost [Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur], the south took over, [and] I noticed alotta regional segregation in general, and to me it all went back to that speech.. so when i had enough ammo to tackle the topic, I wanted to do it from his point of view era by era by era: powerful music. The intro and outro was from The Great Debaters; Denzel [Washington] delivered those lines as best as you could possibly ask for."
Bi-Polar: "This is Panik in Chronic-mode. If this shit don't wobble your speakers... fuck yo' life and all it entails 'cause you, my friend, are the living dead m'fucka...go to the ER and see if you still have a pulse you walking piece of fucking lunchmeat! [Laughing] I wanted to touch on certain things that co-relate with love and hate in one sitting wether it be lust,money or a relationship with a loved one... we all can relate to this and agree. When P played me this shit I was just like, 'Man, I can't outshine this, this track is too sick to even spit on." [The] reason why I took it easy on this one, this one you just play, crack something to sip and vibe out to....once you get to this point of the album you relax a lil' bit 'cause the ride has been pretty damn intense, wouldn't you agree?"
Proof: "This is the first track i recorded for Armor of God, so if you noticed, I moved the way God moved, I made the first joint last and the last joint first. Jake One laced it.. this shit is like Soul music to drive by: extremely hype, sonically and vocally. People always ask if you can beat or be on par with your last body of work... this shit right here is proof... no pun intended. Aw fuck it, who am i kidding? It's fun and mean-spirited but it works. I love the hook on this it makes me wanna roundhouse a fuckin' mailman, pistol-whip a Macy's colgne salesman..this is Vakill right here.. tracks like this is why i'm still here."