Review Summary: Go ninja go, go ninja go, go ninja go, go ninja go
Opening up an album with a sample of movie quotes can sometimes give you an idea of what aforementioned album will sound like. In the case of Fatal Peril
, this rings true. The ninja movie samples give an idea of what it sounds like; sharp and swift but with a stealthy, mystic quality behind it. Granted the samples come from the producer rather than the rapper, but I’m pretty sure Lone Ninja has always had a hand in what gets put on his tracks and what doesn’t . Either way, the ninja sounds reveal a lot of what the rest of the record sounds like; post Wu-Tang, Doom-influenced east coast rap with beats from a UK producer. The UK thing might throw some folks off, but you won’t find any grime or electro-funk here. Instead, orchestral, hard-edged sounds permeate hard-knock drums and thwacking eastern sounds.
Lone Ninja is an emcee with a love-it-or-hate-it sound, using bass-heavy vocal tones similar to MF DOOM. It’s not that he’s a bad rapper either, in fact Lone is technically very good, balancing the amount of syllables per line to a near equal amount and matching the beats on certain parts. The problem lies in the sound of the album. While better produced than his previous solo outing Burnt Sector
, the vocals are still thrown off at some parts. The music and the vocals are too separated at times, such as on Minefield
, where it sounds like he doesn’t know which beat he’s rapping over. As said earlier though, the vocal mix has improved. The aforementioned problem is only a minor annoyance compared to the past. Well at least the rapping makes up for the minor mistakes on display here; while his flow may be a little predictable and too well-crafted, Lone is usually on-point. He’s a decent beat rider and a lyricist of above-average caliber, and he shines through. When his flow tends to get samey is when Lone’s completely outdone by his guest collaborators. U.G., June, Godilla and more tend to outperform him on every track they feature on. After a few tracks Lone starts to sound lazy and bumbling, as if he performed on autopilot.
Blaq Masq isn’t the most original beatsmith but neither is he the worst. Songs like Equilibrium
contain soft, orchestral beats on simplistic percussion while others like Secret Character
have hard-hitting trumpets and violins on top of bass-and-snare patterns. None of the music really stands out aside from the production on the very last song Enemy Base
, where Masq creates a catchy melody of violins, flutes and soft percussive sounds. It works in the sense that both U.G,. (Of Cella Dwellas fame) and Lone Ninja can ride the beat in an almost perfect manner. Lone gets incredibly aggressive as well, spitting venom that shows anger unlike before.
Bashing this record more hardly seems like a fair thing to do, because it does have its strong points as well. Lone is an aesthetically great rapper and he always manages to push out a product of decent quality. Fatal Peril
has been a few years in the making, whether being delayed due to being unfinished or to label problems, but it has been a while. The wait was worth it though; FP contains 12 tracks with about 7 or 8 of them being really solid. Predictable flow notwithstanding, what Lone and Blaq Masq have done is craft a record with a traditional sound, not trying to stand out from the crowd too much while remaining individualistic due to the elements within the music rather than the music itself. Hopefully the few problems can be addressed and then we can get more solid hip-hop from a steady, hard-working artist.