Review Summary: The years have been good to Vakill, making Armor of God his most mature and complete album.
Rap is a young man’s game, with most rappers rising to prominence in their early twenties and ducking out of relevance in just a few years. Vakill, a Chicago MC, has been active in the scene for twenty years, yet he still controls the microphone like few others, refusing to fade into obscurity. With Armor of God
, Vakill has released a complete statement of his versatility and talent.
Vakill’s lyrical style is reminiscent of Lord Finesse, relentlessly spitting simile after simile, punch line after punch line, though he is generally more verbose. Simple "x like y" similes are rarely found in his rhymes; he thinks up comparisons never once uttered by any other rapper. His lyrics are dense with wordplay and also with polysyllabic rhyming, but he has an uncommon talent to make it sound effortless. So called "backpacker rap" is brimming with rappers who ejaculate technical rhymes with no restraint, sacrificing their identity in the process. Vakill never loses sight of his purpose in making each song, even while spitting enough multis to make MF DOOM blush. Excellent as his technique is, thankfully he does not spend an hour on battle rap, with a set of all out brag tracks tempered by more reserved tracks for childhood reminiscence, exercising his story telling abilities, and taking on serious subject matter. Though he retains the flair for punch lines from previous albums, his delivery has taken a new route. He still has hunger, but he makes his old self look too desperate for attention and respect. As an aging MC, Vakill has, instead of weakening, settled into a new confidence that doesn’t necessitate as aggressive and quick a flow. It feels as though Vakill takes his own pace, finally wrangling the beats and driving the album forward instead of trying to keep up with them.
The production is a modern affair, more cinematic and complex than previous albums, giving it a less raw feel but helping to keep the album interesting through the entire sixty three minute runtime. The album begins with a set of powerful beats to match the explosive braggadocio that eventually give way to comparatively low key but still (if not more) effective beats. It has the power of The Darkest Cloud
and the cold calm of Worst Fears Confirmed
. The beats traverse varied territory, but through it all Vakill is in control and matches his flow perfectly to each one.
Armor of God
is Vakill’s most mature effort, and paints the most complete picture of his abilities. Through the entire album, Vakill holds the attention of any listener willing to give him a chance and never lets go. There are a couple of guest appearances but he outshines all of them, never letting the focus be taken off of him. Even as a man who has been in the game for twenty years and is approaching the dreaded forty years old landmark, Vakill shows that he is still one of the very best to be doing it in any part of the world. The crown still don’t move.