Lone Ninja - Trapdoors and Secret Passageways (Review)

Lone Ninja - Trapdoors and Secret Passageways (Essence of Hip-Hop)

"Trapdoors and Secret Passageways" is the third solo project from Twin Peril's rapper Lone Ninja. The album features no guest appearances and is fully produced by 5th Element Ninja (who has produced for both 9th Prince and Dom Pachino of Killarmy). It was released on November 26, 2013 via Holographic Pagoda Recordings.

1) Apparition - The album begins with an almost minute long Kung-Fu movie sample before the first beat kicks in and Lone Ninja starts rapping. The beat is real dope, with an ominous backing sample and haunting flutes over plodding drums, and Lone Ninja sounds good enough over it, kicking some Wu-Tang inspired rhymes in his usual monotone flow. - 3/5

2) Ulterior Motives - Lone Ninja spits some rhymes about "snakes" and false friends over an instrumental full of cinematic strings and boom-bap drums. The production is pretty dark, but it lightens a bit during the chorus when the beat changes up to include some soaring woodwinds and kung-fu samples. This one is real nice. - 4/5

3) Possessed - This song finds Lone Ninja slowly and methodically spitting some more esoteric rhymes over another ill instrumental from 5th Element Ninja. The beat is real dope, with forceful strings over hard hitting boom-bap drums, and Lone Ninja's rhyme scheme's and wordplay are quite nice. For some reason his voice reminds me a little of 9th Prince, which is a good thing if you are a fan of RZA's little bro like I am. - 3.25/5

4) Warpath - 5th Element Ninja comes through with yet another banging instrumental on this track, this time with Kung-Fu samples and other ambient noises interspersed throughout the production. As far as the rhymes go, Lone Ninja sounds about the same as he always has and kicks some militant rhymes. So far he isn't really changing up his style at all, so if you didn't like him before you probably won't like him now. I'm feelin' it though. - 3.5/5

5) Mad Wolf - Lone Ninja ups the energy level of his flow a little bit on this one, kicking some more of his usual rhymes, but in a slightly more animated flow. As for the beat, 5th Element Ninja comes with some more strings, stomping boom-bap drums and the occasional flute. Yeah, I'm diggin' this one too. - 3.5/5

6) Inner Demons - The beat on this cut is just as dope as the others, with some dreary guitars that give the song a depressing, yet beautiful, feel. Lyrically the song is a little darker as well, with Lone Ninja kicking some horror filled rhymes about his inner demons. - 3.25/5

7) Plagued Village - After a pretty creepy movie sample, Lone Ninja comes in and spits some more Wu-Tang-ish rhymes over yet another crazy 5th Element Ninja instrumental. The beat is flames, with a soaring string sample over drums that have me nodding my head like crazy, and Lone Ninja sounds real dope over it. - 4/5

8) Mystic Defender - The beat on this cut is centered around some moody strings, a chopped up vocal loop and kung-fu movie samples, keeping it in line with many of the other beats on the project so far. Lyrically Lone Ninja does the same and spits some more abstract warrior/kung-fu rhymes in his monotone flow. - 3/5

9) Rage of Honor - 5th Element Ninja delivers yet another dope instrumental with a strong Wu vibe while Lone Ninja comes through and kicks some more graphic rhymes full of Kung-Fu and martial arts references. Yeah, it's basically the same as the last eight tracks, but the shit is still dope to me. - 3.5/5

10) Ambush - Lone Ninja ambushes wack emcees over a distorted sample with boom-bap drums. The beat and rhymes are dope enough, but I'm not feelin' this one quite as much as the others. Still, not bad at all. - 3/5

11) Winding Staircase - The song finds 5th Element Ninja delivering a dark instrumental full of foreboding piano keys and sweeping strings for Lone Ninja to do his thing over. The beat is dope and Lone Ninja sounds about the same as he has on the rest of the album, which is a good thing. - 3.25/5

12) Tranquil Mind - The final song on the album finds Lone Ninja kicking some vivid rhymes about keeping a clear mind over a breezy 5th Element Ninja production. The beat has a peaceful feel to it to go along with the serene and positive rhymes from Lone Ninja. Dope way to close out the project. - 3.75/5

I'm going to rate the album

3.5 / 5

because it's quite good. The production on here from 5th Element Ninja is banging, with almost every instrumental being top notch and full of that classic Wu-Tang sound without coming off as a blatant ripoff. I've always been a huge fan of this style of production, so it's no wonder I'm feelin' almost every instrumental on here. As far as the rhymes go, Lone Ninja sounds about the same as he always has. If you are not a fan of him by now, I doubt this album will do much to change your mind. His delivery can come off as boring and monotone, but his rhymes are dope (especially if you a fan of older Wu-Tang material) and his wordplay is quite nice. All in all, I'm feelin' it.


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