"Soul on Fire" is the third studio album from hip-hop veteran ethemadassassin. The album features guest appearances from Veteran Eye, Sherman Way, Martin H and Buck Hennessey as well as production from Kyo Itachi, Devaron Benjamin, Wonder Boy and others. The album is set to be released on September 17, 2013.
1) Intro - The first track on the album features ethemadassassin spitting a single extended verse over a soulful vocal sample loop. The beat is produced by Devaron Benjamin and its pretty ill. Lyrically, ethemadassassin comes correct and spits some darts to give us a quick glimpse of what to expect on the rest of the album. This is pretty good and is a nice way to kick off the album.
2) Sparta - Devaron Benjamin returns with another ill instrumental, this time with some epic violins, blaring horns and head-nodding drums. The beat has a militant feel and ethemadassassin brings it, spitting hard street rhymes with some witty wordplay.
"Scopin' everything in sight, I can't stop my thugThis shit is raw.
It's strong like a vampire drinking Popeye's blood
I was built with a will to win, the Black fist so militant
Diligent, balance benevolence with belligerence"
3) Fight Music - The beat on this track, produced by Gav Beats, has an energetic electric guitar, hard drums and the occasional vocal chanting to give it a sort of rock stadium feel. Ethemadassassin spits some aggressive battle rap and braggadocio rhymes about making it through the hard times. His lyrics and flow are more vehement than on the previous few songs, which meshes nicely with the intensity of the instrumental. Dope.
4) Can't Get Enough - The beat on this track, provided by Wonder Boy, has a muffled soul sample that gives the song a hazy, dreamy vibe. Ethemadassassin gets a bit personal on here, rapping about his addiction to money and success as well as his strive to make it in the rap industry. The beat is dope and the lyrics are honest. Very nice.
5) Elements - Gav Beats returns with another loud instrumental that is similar in feel to his previous contribution to the album, "Fight Music." The beat is full of electric guitars, organs and hard-hitting drums. Ethemadassassin comes correct, but I'm not really feelin' the beat on this one as much as the others. It's not terrible, but it's not my favorite song on here.
6) 80's & 90's - Now this is dope. SciFi Stu comes through with an ill old school hip-hop instrumental for ethemadassassin to body. Lyrically, ethemadassassin is simply paying homage to the past and the years that he grew up in. The only negative I have about this song is the chorus, which is a bit repetitive and could have been fleshed out a bit more. Still, the beat is ethereal and ethemadassassin rips it. This is one of my favorite songs on the album so far, even with the weaker chorus.
7) Tiger Blade - The beat on this track, courtesy of Akthentik Works, has a carefree, laid-back vibe to it that I'm really diggin'. As usual, ethemadassassin is on point with his rhymes and spits a handful of one-liners describing himself and how ill he is. Lyrically this may be one of his better performances on the album so far, rapping verses filled with deft wordplay and clever metaphors. Another banger.
8) What Its Supposed To Be - This song originally appeared on Kyo Itachi's 2010 album "Musikyo", which was criminally slept on in my opinion. The instrumental, by Kyo himself, is definitely a banger, with some airy flutes, sweeping strings and hard boom-bap drums. The beat is beautiful and ethemadassassin bodies it, spitting about life and wondering if this is really what it's supposed to be like.
"I got post-traumatic stress disorder from lyrical slaughtersThis shit is absolute fire and is easily one of my favorite songs on here. I've said it before and I'll say it again, Kyo Itachi is one of the most underrated hip-hop producers in the rap industry.
Many mortals, pulverizing bones and rippin' aortas
I hide the mental scars, my boots show I'm in the struggle
Been representin', runnin' like Tubman through this concrete jungle"
9) Nothing's Gonna Stop Me - Wonder Boy returns with a cinematic instrumental that features an orchestral backing sample with a sped-up vocal loop on the chorus. The beat is really ill and ethemadassassin spits some heartfelt lyrics over it, rapping about how nothing is going to stop him from achieving his dreams - you're either with him or against him. This is fire. Very dope.
10) Crazy - Wonder Boy comes through yet again with another ill beat, this time with
an energetic, jazzy instrumental that's got my head nodding a bit. Ethemadassassin comes correct and raps about giving up his playa ways after meeting a woman who's got his head in a whirlwind. Nice.
11) Letter To Mommy - Devaron Benjamin returns with a dope instrumental that has some soft piano keys, breezy strings and hard-hitting drums. As you can probably guess from the title of the song, this track is a letter from ethemadassassin to his mother. He apologizes for all the hardships and pain he has caused her over the years and thanks her for always being there for him. Dope.
12) Young & Foolish (featuring Veteran Eye, Sherman Way & Martin H) - This track teams up ethemadassassin with fellow Veteran Assassin member Veteran Eye, as well as Sherman Way and Martin H (who sings the chorus). Up until this song, ethemadassassin has held down every verse on the album by himself, so its kinda nice to hear him sharing the mic a bit. The instrumental, by Sherman Way, has an upbeat, carefree feel to it and each emcee comes correct, rapping about the foolish things they did growing up. Nice.
13) Gratitude (featuring Buck Hennessey) - The final track on the album has a beautiful, uplifiting instrumental by Gav Beats that is very different from the guitar-heavy beats he provided at the beginning of the album. Ethemadassassin raps about being grateful for everything that he has in his life while Buck Hennessey provides the chorus. This song is really good. Dope way to end the album.
I'm going to rate the album
4 / 5
because its consistently dope pretty much the whole way through. There are a few tracks that are not as strong as the others, but most of the songs are banging. The beats range from good to great and ethemadassassin comes correct on every verse, rapping about a variety of topics ranging from giving thanks to his mother for being there for him to growing up in the cold streets. The only real criticisms I have of the album are a few mediocre beats here or there, a couple iffy choruses and a few sequencing issues. I feel like the tracks that featured guest appearances should have been interspersed better throughout the album since both tracks appear at the very end, leaving ethemadassassin to hold it down on his own for the first 11 tracks. It's not a big issue, but having some variety throughout would have been better than waiting until the very end. That being said, the album is still really dope and should not be missed. Soul on Fire is out September 17 on R Steel Entertainment.