Review Summary: Whirlwindin' through cities...
He’s travelled through time, he’s visited different dimensions, he can move objects with his mind, he’s lived in other universes. Meet the man they call Afu Ra. Born Aaron Phillip, Afu Ra was inducted into the rap game by Jeru the Damaja, and thanks to his Gang Starr connections, released his debut October 10th, 2000. A student of martial arts and chess, Afu Ra embodies the type of “self-aware” MC that riddles the indie and underground rap scenes, and while it’s impressive for a debut, Body Of The Life Force
isn’t done as well as other intelligent rap albums.
Astoundingly enough for an underground debut album, Body Of The Life Force
possesses some good production, no doubt as a result of being executive-produced by DJ Premier. Examined in and of themselves, the instrumentals aren’t anything especially impressive. But as a collective unit – whether it be the Latin tinges to Calienta
with its female Hispanic singer sampling, Spanish guitars, and maracas; the Oriental atmosphere to Mic Stance
with its Chinese bells and gongs; the Middle Eastern tint of Warfare
with its creeping desert night synths and Arabian gongs; or the Caribbean feel of D&D Soundclash
with its reggae elements – the production is largely an international tour of seemingly culturally-based beats.
Alas, and unquestionably, the best aspect of a conscious rap album should be the lyrics, and with Body Of The Life Force
is no exception of thus. Afu Ra’s vast vocabulary (“exuberate,” “microcosmic”) and intellect make for some intelligent rap quotables (“My ship is stainless/Orbits next your Uranus/As long as you know/Brain freeze likes of Pluto/My wordplay firm-lay/In zero gravi-tay/I be the dentist and you, you be the cavi-tay/Or neurosurgeon, brain work pathogen/From your consumption, first thing is oxygen,”) that are multifarious and ambiguous.
But where this album finds its faults is within Afu Ra’s voice box, throat, and tongue. While occasionally displaying some intricate rhyme schemes with complex flows, Afu Ra’s MCing itself is only deemable as ‘just-solid’ the majority of the time. His rapping suffices, but isn’t particularly and consistently outstanding. His voice is fairly high, and scrapes the characteristic of ‘nasally’ which isn’t very appealing, as the borderline level of it can be annoying to a minor extent, and it isn’t cohesive in the least with his spirited delivery.
Body Of The Life Force
is a solid album, and was a nice start to a good career, but it doesn’t deserve listens en masse, and doesn’t have a clear-cut, standout hit to lead the charge. This album is definitely worth owning, but will most definitely garner dust on the shelf frequently.