Review Summary: Mixing rap and religion is often like mixing oil and water, it just doesn't go together. But in the case of Heavy Mental, Killah Priest pulls it off nicely.Heavy Mental
, Killah Priest’s debut, is something incredibly rare; a hard hitting religious rap record. Killah Priest builds up these songs with his religious musings and - very occasionally - babblings, and mixes them with an eerie, minimalistic soundtrack that drives the listener to the very end with an occasional regular Wu Posse cut (“Cross My Heart”) or hard-hitting 90s Wu-influenced rap track (“The Professional”) without many bumps in the ride.
essentially consists of two moods and personas: One that focuses on anger and the murder of ‘fake mc’s’ (especially on “Fake MC’s”!), and the other that is laid-back, at times depressing and subdued, but completely telling of his beliefs. Throughout, Killah Priest proves he is far stronger as a calm teller of tales, like on the paranoid-atmospherics of the title track, the oddly hooky and use of gospel organs on “B.I.B.L.E.”, or the street narrative “Science Projects”. When Killah Priest calms himself down, he manages to present his paranoid politics mixed with face-in-the-bible religious references well, but when he starts riling himself up and tries to act like a member of the Wu-Tang, he shows off a weakness in his flow and writing. “Fake MC’s” is complimented with an elegantly dark piano backing, but fails to come together due to Killah Priest’s lackadaisical slander of opposing MC’s, which also affects his verse on “Cross My Heart”, making him sound amateur compared to Wu-rappers GZA and Inspectah Deck.
There is not much else to say about Heavy Mental
other than the cold, archaic-sounding beats that manage to fit Killah Priest’s bible studying. At times piano-driven (“Fake MC’s), other times led by odd vocal samples (“If You Don’t Know”), but mostly in cahoots with the rest of the albums dark mood, only being broken by the albums best track “B.I.B.L.E.”, a slightly more upbeat tune driven by its gospel influences and Killah Priest’s informative tales of early doubts of the church.
Despite some slight flaws in consistency of mood and skill, Heavy Mental
is an eccentric record nonetheless. Overall, Heavy Mental
is just good enough to check, but not good enough to re-invent music and invoke followers to make copy-cat records exactly like this.