It is interesting to note how rote Hip Hop music’s current output has become. At one time, believe it or not, Hip Hop artists dared to push sonic envelopes and introduce varying levels of innovation. Now, at least in the mainstream, it has rendered itself to a redundant mockery of what it once was. With so many rap artists becoming more and more prevalent than in any other time, how can those artists who wish to step to the left of the current makeup of the genre really impact the scene? With his 2nd release, Chicago’s Gilead7 hopes to do just that with the LP Death Penalty Shots.
After a rambling intro speaking to his struggles in music, things get going with “War of Images” featuring Elevation. A haunting track from Switzerland’s Ruedi Snare offers just enough space for Gilead7’s extremely wordy cadence. At first listen it all appears to be battle rap gibberish, but with patience the eventual jewels do appear. The next track “A Song Called Hate” from producer Sean the Pawn begins with a sparse guitar loop then becomes suddenly chaotic once the scattering drums are added. However, Gilead7’s metaphorically heavy rhyme style shines brightly here. “Save”, a self produced track featuring Chaka, is a welcome slowdown but Gilead7’s overly syllabic flow doesn’t add anything to the song. The title track, again self produced, is easily the LP’s best song overall. There exists in this track an obvious spoken word influence coupled with the loose styling often associated with freestyle rhyming.
Gilead7’s most impressive feat, however, is his collegiate career – he intends to begin his PhD coursework in theology this coming fall. That makes Gilead7’s stark and heavy imagery compelling alone, but the style that he employs repeatedly wears on the ears after a while. Perhaps if Gilead7 took fewer risks lyrically, maybe the messages he wishes to inject would actually have some manner of effect. As it stands, this is a decent listen for what it is.
By DANITA of Okayplayer
released May 20, 2007
All rhymes were written by Gilead7 for Alchemist's Pen Publishing (ASCAP), except for 2., co-written with Elevation, and 4., co-written with Chaka.
Track 1, 4-7, and 9 produced by Gilead7, Track 2 produced by Ruedi Snare, Track, 3 produced by Sean the Pawn.