Six years later, a classic emcee resurrects from, well… the dirt. Shadow of the Locust founder and Solomon Cain crew member Dirt returns to the scene to bring us his third full length album “Heavy Manners”. If you’ve been around for a minute then you will remember Dirt from his last albums “A War to Restore” and “Plague” or from his appearances on P.O.D.’s “Brown” and Syntax Records’ “Fashion Expo”. If you’re just getting your feet wet, expect an emcee who simply will not fake it for you. Dirt is a lyricist to the core- a mic ripping, grimy, envelope pusher.
I hear a serious amount of evolution in Dirt’s style. This disk is a long neighborhood walk from all of Dirt’s previous releases. This disk is definitely not as ministry focused in the traditional sense, and frankly, it’s a little gangster. Expect to be sat down and scolded. I also noticed a lot of blatant reggae influence on this disk. Lots of experimental dub usage on songs like “Depth” and “Arm N Arm” reveal Dirt’s roots. In fact the title of the disk “Heavy Manners” comes from a classic reggae album by Prince Far I released back in 1976. Dirt explains on the interlude “Fans is Friends is Fam” that “Heavy Manners” means tough love or strict discipline. But, never fear. This is still our own classic Dirt. The disk is lyrically focused with amazing word play and Dirt’s weird voice to bring it home. Dirt is incredibly honest and personal about his life over the past six or so years as he takes you through a journey of struggle and growing up.
Key tracks include “Move Insane” which is a lyricist’s tribute to an unclassified dope underground beat. The pure vibe of this track won’t leave you alone kid! It’s hot! “Fake thugs get blasted/ my clique come drastic/ ecclesiastic catalysts/ -melodramatic/ magnificent lyrically/ a plague in your history/ I got a disease in my arteries/ and cause of this I scratch lyrics on my mom’s uterus…” Who thinks of that? Also peep “Radio Raheem”, a party song laying out Dirt’s master plan to take hip hop back from the machine and give it to the grass roots. Finally, “Red Handed” is a noticeable gem. I will warn all though, this song is rated “R” and deals with some pretty raw and real struggles for Christians. On the other hand, it’s not as vulgar as many of the stories in the Bible. I value the candor in a genre where it seems emcees are fearful to confess they have human tendencies, unless of course they are bragging about it.
Like any Shadow of the Locust release, there is a long list of dope collabs. They include the likes of 2211, evolvE, Jaeden (of Noetic), 7Lock, Emcee Noiz, Jendor, Wut Metaphysical, Parable, Pinky, and RedCloud. Big Iron featuring Dirt’s old partner in crime 7Lock is an old western reminiscent of some archetypal Wu-Tang. The hook says it all, “Sometimes you gotta use your mic like it was a gun/ and never let up until the show is done/ always in control of what you say/ can’t waste your ammo at war when blastin away/ Sometimes you gotta use your gun like it was a mic/ try to talk it out before the gun fight/ cause life is precious/ so they say/ but if they still come with war then blast away.” This is that raw Dirt material.
The dark clouds over this disk are few but noticeable. I feel that some of the tracks could have been mixed better. Plus, it’s really a bad deal that this release is only available on MP3. They say that’s where the industry is going anyway, but there is just something about pulling that plastic wrap off a dope jewel case.
My final say: don’t waste your time nit picking the songs, buy the lot and enjoy. Thanks for your many years of service Dirt, it was worth the wait.
Release Date: January 28 2008
Record Label: Shadow Of The Locust
2. Well Qualified
4. Radio Raheem
5. Stolen Tokens
6. Cry Out
7. Red Handed
8. Depth (feat. 2211)
9. Move Insane
10. Tough Love
11. Shadow Of The Locust: Joel 2
12. Stay Stealth (feat. Pinky, evolvE, Jendor, 7Lock)
13. Trouble When (feat. Jendor)
14. Big Iron (feat. 7Lock)
15. Phat Cat
16. Clever Son (feat. Noiz & Wut)
17. Arm N Arm (feat. Tommygunz Jaeden of Noetic)
18. Throw Dice
19. Fans Is Friends Is Fam
20. Well Qualified [Hawthorne Remix] (feat. RedCloud)
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