John Robinson and Kyo Itachi - The Path of Mastery (Review)

Kyo Itachi and John Robinson - The Path of Mastery (cover)

"The Path of Mastery" is a collaboration album between New York emcee John Robinson and French producer Kyo Itachi. The album was produced entirely by Kyo Itachi and was released on May 21, 2013.

1) All Hail the Honorable - The album kicks right into high gear with no skits or intros, which is a very good thing. The beat on this song is incredible, especially when it switches up a bit to include some falling chimes. I'm not familiar with much of John Robinson's prior work, but he sounds dope and is really spitting on here.
"Deep, dark thoughts of an industry takeover
Back to the original plan, the game need a makeover
If knowledge was the true wealth, then we in the state of Oprah
Boundless gems to the world, its never over"
This track is fire. Great way to start the album.

2) Gritty Trenches - Holy shit this beat is beautiful. The strings are cinematic but the drums hit hard and help give it that classic boom-bap feel. John Robinson comes in and just rips it. His voice and flow sound really ill over Kyo Itachi instrumentals. Damn this is dope.

3) Who Goes There (featuring Hus and Skanks) - This song starts off with a Wu-Tang-esque kung-fu sample and then blends into another banging instrumental, this time with a jazzy horn loop. I've never heard of Hus or Shanks, but they both sound great on here and match John Robinson bar for bar. This album has a strong Wu-Tang feel to it so far and I'm loving it (me being a major Wu stan and all). Very dope.

4) The Rap Shogun - Does Kyo Itachi make weak beats? Everything I've heard from him has been straight fire and this song is no exception. True to the title of the song, John Robinson uses kung-fu metaphors as he spits some braggadocio bars about how ill his is on the mic. Most of the time emcees brag about how dope they are despite the fact that their skills truly lacking, but John Robinson has the bars to back it up. Damn this album is crazy so far.

5) Life Itself - Another banging instrumental, this time with some distorted synths over upbeat drums. John Robinson spits about his love for music and hip-hop culture:
"Really never thought about life itself without music
Though its like a part of my health, thats why we do this
The passion alone speaks volumes, as we continue to give gems to the people"
Normally by now I have a clear standout song that I'm feelin more than the others, but I don't this time since each track has been equally dope. Very nice.

6) Love You Like Music (featuring Contro'Versy and Maty Soul) - Well it was bound to happen. This is the first song on the album so far that I'm not really feeling. The beat is pretty dope, but I'm not really diggin the vibe or the singing on here. It's not terrible, but its definitely not as dope as the prior songs in my opinion.

7) Mastery - Now this is much better. Kyo Itachi comes through with another banger that will definitely get your head nodding a bit. The instrumental is smooth and John Robinson flows over it like water. The cuts on here, by DJ Djaz, are also really dope and add to the texture of the song. Fire.

8) Manga - The beat on this song is a bit darker and minimalistic than the others, but its still nice. John Robinson spits a story using a whole bunch of manga/anime references, which is not something I'm deeply knowledgeable about. Still, the song is pretty dope but not one of my favorites.

9) Indigo Child - Ok, now THIS beat is dope. The bass is deep and the background sample is quite epic. John Robinson rips it and kicks bars about his "warrior princess". This song also features some ill cuts by DJ Djaz. Very nice.

10) War Spelled Backwards (featuring Eloh Kush of Angelz Inc) - The song begins with another kung-fu sample, which makes it an automatic win for me. It definitely helps that the beat is beautiful and both emcees rip it. The instrumental has an ethereal vocal sample running through it that adds an angelic quality to the beat, but then couples it with some hard boom-bap drums. This is definitely a banger. The only downside is that its only two and a half minutes long.

11) Mystical Strings - John Robinson spits fire over a dope string-based instrumental. The beat is straight up gritty, raw boom-bap and John Robinson rips it with ease. It doesn't get much better than this. Absolute fire.

12) They Just Don't Care (featuring Maqflah and Meemee Nelzy) - This is the last cut on the album before we get into some remixes. The beat is really dope, but I can't understand a word being said by Maqflah since he raps in French. John Robinson and female vocalist Meemee Nelzy sound good, but it's a hard listen when I can't understand much of what is being said. Still, the song is pretty good, especially if you speak French.

*The last four songs on the album are all remixes so I'm really only going to comment on the beats since the lyrics are the same as the originals.*

13) Manga (Astronote Remix) - The original version of this song had a darker, minimalistic beat but the remix is totally different. The beat on here is futuristic with some spaced-out synths which give the track a unique feel on the album despite being a remix. Very dope.

14) Life Itself (Phalo Remix) - Another synth heavy remix, but this one also has a vocal sample that comes in occasionally. So far these have been as ill as the originals, which is rare.

15) Mystical Strings (Venom Remix) - This remix is more boom-bap orientated than the previous two. The snares hit hard and the bass is deep. Very nice.

16) War Backwards (featuring Eloh Kush of Angelz Inc) (Azaia Remix) - While the original beat to this song was angelic, the remix is a bit darker and more atmospheric. Its not as good as the original in my opinion, but its still very good.

I'm going to rate the album

4.5 / 5

because its really, really good. The lush sound-scape provided by Kyo Itachi perfectly complements the laid-back vocals and thought provoking lyrics of John Robinson. I'm also really feeling the Asian/Wu-Tang theme prevalent throughout the LP. While there are a few filler tracks on the album, the majority of it is boom-bap at its finest. Unfortunately I have a feeling that this album will be highly slept on by most people. I highly recommend checking out this project.


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