Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Crate Digging 4 - The Last Emperor Secret Wars part 1

This is the fourth entry in my Crate Digging series whereby I pick out gems I had forgotten I had in my collection.  This little slice of mid nineties indie Hip Hip is brought to us by underground hero The Last Emperor and was released in 1997.  This was his first 12" and featured three joints; Secret Wars part 1, Bums and Monumental.  The Last Emperor was originally from Philadelphia but in the mid nineties moved to New York and began performing at The Lyricist Lounge. He was featured on KRS ONE's "C.I.A. (Criminals in Action)" with Rage Against the Machine's Zach De La Rocha which was featured on the. Lyricist Lounge compilation released on Rawkus. Two years later he signed to Dr Dre's Aftermath however like a number of promising artists at that time that never lead to an album release.  In 2003 it was announced that The Last Emperor had signed to Rawkus Records. A few singles were released in a period of 6 months, but around that time Rawkus ceased to trade. He finally released his solo album in 2003, Music, Magic, Myth (Palace of the Pretender in Europe) this was on his own label Red Planet.  I cannot recall exactly where I picked this up although something tells me I may have picked this up on the internet from either or Sandbox who at the time had some great deals on vinyl.  The main track on this 12" is the Secret Wars Part 1 joint (was there a part2 ?).  Its a simple beat with a nice piano loop that sounds like it was taken from the opening bars of the Love Story theme.  The real selling point of this track however is the lyrics.  The Last Emperor tells the story of a battle between some Hip Hop's best lyricists and Superheroes with vocal impersonations of both the rappers and the heroes.  Its a fun track and the Last Emperor shows off his lyrical skill.  There is only a radio version an instrumental.  Onto the B-Side this features two joints and an instrumental.  The first track is called Bums and has a slightly more interesting beat than the A-Side.  Lyrically he tells the story of his life as a bum awaiting a record deal with a humorous slant.  There is an instrumental for the track Bums included.  The final joint is Monumental which has a nice mellow beat allowing the listener to focus on the considerable talents of the emcee.  Although musically these joints are pretty much standard beats for the indie scene in '97 the differentiating factor that sets them apart is The Last emperor's lyrics.  He is a skilled lyricist who deserved better beats but nonetheless drops original concepts and rhymes on all three track.  Check the link below for the rip.

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