Matt Maddox - Righteous Fury (Review)

"Righteous Fury" is the second album from Kansas emcee Matt Maddox. The album features guest appearances from Tragedy Khadafi, King Magnetic, Reef The Lost Cauze and others as well as production from C-Lance, Skammadix, Sicknature and others. It is set to be released on February 25, 2014 via Red Phone Records and Seven 13 Music.

1) No Country For Old Men - The album begins with a hard-hitting Engineer instrumental full of merciless horns and synths that give the beat a militant feel. The instrumental has a ton of energy which compliments Matt Maddox's animated delivery nicely, as the Kansas based emcee spits some thought-provoking rhymes about the state of hip-hop nowadays and how about it's fallen off in the last few years. This was one of the singles released from the album and it even got a video a few months back. I'm feelin' the message of the song, but the beat starts to get a tad repetitive over the course of the full track. Still, not bad.

2) Interlude - Skit.

3) Sick and Tired - This song has a more mellow instrumental, courtesy of Sultan Mir, that is full of soft strings over some ill boom-bap drums. Matt Maddox tones down the energy level in his delivery a bit to match the slower pace of the beat, spitting some personal lyrics about being sick and tired of working his ass off in the rap industry for such little gain. The beat is dope, the rhymes are honest and the scratching by TMB is just icing on the cake. Dope track.

4) BARbarians (featuring Godilla, UG and Born Unique) - This was the first single released from the album and its pretty ill. The beat, by Hellzwind, brings the energy back after the more easy-going previous track and is mainly centered around an epic horn loop that should get your head nodding a bit. I'm not very familiar with any of the guest emcees on this cut, but they all sound good enough over the beat, with no verse standing out to me as being the weakest. Dope.

5) Work (featuring Mina Fedora) - Skammadix comes through with a guitar-based instrumental that sounds like its layered over live drums that give the beat a unique feel on the album so far. As on "Sick and Tired", Maddox lowers the intensity level of his delivery to mesh better with the relaxed instrumental, kicking some more conscious rhymes about people who work their whole lives away while Minda Fedora provides some nice vocals on the chorus. I'm liking the different topics that Matt Maddox is tackling on the album so far. Dope.

6) El Mariachi - This song has another guitar-based sample, this time with the occasional vocal sample interwoven throughout. The beat, by Nemesis, has a sort of mellow, Mexican vibe going on and Matt Maddox comes correct over it, rapping about life on the road as he travels the world while touring. Not bad, but not one of my favorites.

7) The Get Back (featuring King Magnetic) - Skammadix returns with the production duties on this track, coming with a harder instrumental than his last contribution. The beat has a sort of dark sample layered over boom-bap drums that definitely got my head nodding like crazy. Army of the Pharaohs member King Magnetic sets the track off nicely with a dope first verse before Maddox comes in to shut shit down. This ones a banger.

8) Comedy Pt 1 - The beat on this song, also courtesy of Skammadix, also has a darker feel to it, with some sweeping strings and synths over the hard-hitting drums. Lyrically Matt Maddox comes through and just spits a short verse full of vivid imagery and witty punchlines to describe how ill he is. This is good, but its really short.

9) Murder Weapons (featuring Swann) - Frequent Jedi Mind Tricks producer C-Lance stops by and drops off an instrumental that doesn't stray too far from his usual sound, with a speed-up vocal sample over stomping drums that come together to give the beat a cinematic feel. Guest Swann (who I'm not familiar with) only provides the chorus while Matt Maddox flows nicely over the beat and kicks some more boastful rhymes about his skills. I'm feelin' this one. Nice.

10) Spider Man (featuring Adlib and Reef The Lost Cauze) - The beat on this track, courtesy of  Vanderslice, also sounds like something you would hear on a JMT album, with some sinister keyboards and samples over the hard-hitting drums. As expected, both Adlib and Reef The Lost Cauze, as well as Matt Maddox himself, sound right at home over the instrumental, making this track almost feel like something off of an AOTP album. Dope.

11) Mjolnir (featuring Burke the Jurke) - Now this is fire. C-Lance returns for his final appearance on the album, this time with an instrumental that hits even harder than his first. The sample is full of a furious energy and the drums should definitely get your head nodding. I've never heard of Burke the Jurke before, but he sounds pretty good on here and Matt Maddox does his thing as well. Another banger.

12) King Killer - Similar to the previous few songs, the instrumental on this track has a merciless potency to it that reminds me of something off a Jedi Mind Tricks album. The beat, this time by Sicknature of the Snowgoons, has a frantic sample layered over the hard hitting drums and Maddox just raps his ass off over it. This is probably the hardest he has spit on the album so far. Very dope.

13) Olympus Has Fallen -  Hellzwind returns to production duties on this track, delivering an instrumental that has some powerful horns and pianos rounded out with more scratching by TMB. The last few songs have all had a very consistent sound to them that most JMT/AOTP fans are going to eat right up and Matt Maddox is doing his thing on the mic. I'm really feelin' this one as well. Dope shit.

14) Upon A Pale Horse (featuring Edd Bundy) - The beat on this track, provided by Edd Bundy (who also drops a verse), tones down the energy level a bit after the string of hi-octane instrumentals preceding it, but its definitely not lacking in energy. The beat consists of more strings and pianos that give it a real dark feel and both emcees are on point, with Maddox having the stronger verse in my opinion. Not bad, but not quite as good as the past few songs.

15) Comedy Pt 2 - This song is really just a continuation of "Comedy Pt 1", featuring the same Skammadix instrumental as that song and with Matt Maddox pretty much continuing where he left off lyrically.

16) A Time To Kill - This beat on this track, courtesy of Hellzwind, also has a cinematic feel to it, with some eerie pianos, crashing symbols and hard drums. Maddox comes through and kicks some humorous rhymes about how he is killin' it in this hip-hop shit while TMB provides some ill cuts on the chorus. Nice.

17) Street Art (featuring Tragedy Khadafi) - Matt Maddox and QB legend Tragedy Khadafi spit fire over another ill Skammadix instrumental. The beat has an esoteric feel, with some sweeping strings layered over the head nodding drums, and both emcees rip it while TMB is on point with his scratching. This is one of my favorite songs on the album. Fire.

18) Reality's a Bitch - For his last appearance on the album, Skammadix delivers an ominous instrumental with a foreboding feel that sounds like something that would sound right at home on a Killah Priest album. The violins on the chorus are haunting and the verses by Matt Maddox that use the metaphor of reality being represented by a woman are very dope. I'm feelin' this one as well.

19) Show Must Go On - The final song on the album is produced by Nemesis and features what is probably the most cinematic beat on the entire album, with a distorted electric guitar and vocals over the stomping drums. As expected by now, Matt Maddox kicks some potent rhymes about how he will never give up no matter how bad it gets in his signature furious delivery. Dope way to close out the album.

I'm going to rate the album

3.5 / 5

because there is some real dope shit on here, but there is a little filler as well. The beats are pretty good throughout, ranging from high energy bangers to more laid-back instrumentals that allow you to focus more on the lyrical content. Speaking of the lyrics, Matt Maddox shows a ton of versatility on the album, rapping about a variety of topics such as chronicling his struggles in the rap industry to making an entire track using the metaphor of a woman that he has a relationship with to describe reality. His in-your-face and aggressive delivery may turn off some more casual listeners, but his lyrical content should more than make up for it and he does switch up his flow every now and then. The album starts off a little shaky in my opinion before really picking up in the middle and keeping the pace through to the end. If it was just a little shorter, say a strong 15 or 16 tracks, then it would have jumped up to a 4/5 easily. As it stands though, the album is still quite ill and definitely has me looking forward to what else Matt Maddox will deliver in the future.

Favorite tracks: Street Art, Mjolnir, The Get Back, King Killer


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