"Pre Magnum Opus" is the latest project from legendary Queensbridge rapper Tragedy Khadafi. The album features guest appearances from Lil Fame, Meyhem Lauren, Shabaam Sahdeeq, Illa Ghee and others and was released on December 16, 2014 via 25 To Life Aura.
1) Free Thinkers 2 - The first song on the album finds Tragedy Khadafi spitting some knowledge over a soulful beat that has my head nodding right out of the gate. The production on this track is real smooth, with a chopped up soul sample and recordings of Ghandi sandwiched in between the verses, and Tragedy just murders it. Very dope way to start off the project. - 4.25/5
2) Men Amongst Giants (featuring Rudy) - The beat on this song is hard as hell, with atmospheric synths that have that classic QB sound, distorted electric guitars and merciless drums that give the song a real aggressive feel. The lyrics are pretty aggressive as well, with both Tragedy and guest Rudy kicking some braggadocios raps while showing good chemistry together on the mic. - 4/5
3) Mental Journey - The beat on this cut is like a darker, less energetic version of the one on the previous track, but it's just as dope in my opinion. I'm really feeling the bleak vibe of the production and Tragedy sounds great over it as he spits some of his usual boastful street rhymes infused with knowledge and esoteric references. Trag never disappoints lyrically. Dope shit. - 4/5
4) Stand Up (featuring The Delfonics, Lil Fame and Adrian Younge) - This song is labeled as featuring The Delfonics and Adrian Younge, so I'm assuming that it is one of their songs chopped for the instrumental on here. I never got a chance to check out their collaboration album, however, so I may be way off on that. Anyways, the beat bangs and Tragedy rips it, but I'm a little disappointed that Lil Fame only provides the hook since I feel like the beat was tailor-made for his flow. Oh well. - 4/5
5) Runnin - This song finds Tragedy Khadafi kicking some incredibly vivid and personal rhymes over a chopped up Otis Redding "A Change Is Gonna Come" sample. I've always been a sucker for this sample and Tragedy sounds great over it. So far this album is shaping up to be something serious. - 4.25/5
6) Road Kill - The beat on this cut is centered around a prominent vocal sample and is pretty much just a straight loop with very minimal drums. The shit is really dope though and Trag rips it, but the song is just too short and left me wanting more. - 4/5
7) Verbal Cannibals (featuring Meyhem Lauren, Foul Monday and Shabaam Sahdeeq) - Woah. Tragedy links up with Meyhem Lauren, Shabaam Sahdeeq and Foul Monday (who is the only rapper on here that I'm not really familiar with) over yet another instrumental that has my head nodding like crazy. The beat bangs and the rhymes are just as strong, with all four emcees tearing up the production and "spitting that hellfire". This one got me hype. - 4.5/5
8) Gods of War (featuring Gem Star) - The beat on this track returns to the darker vibe of some of the earlier tracks, with Tragedy Khadafi and Gem Star kicking some braggadocios bars over ominous pianos and stomping drums. As usual, the beat is banging and the rhymes are dope. I'm not sure who all makes up Gem Star, though, but they sound really nice on here. - 4/5
9) Lazarus Pit (featuring Royal Flush and STARVIN B) - Tragedy, Royal Flush and STARVIN B all kick some boastful battle raps over the same instrumental as Cormega's "American Beauty" track. I'm pretty sure that almost everyone is familiar with that beat, but the rhymes are good enough to give the song an identity of its own. Despite that, this song isn't quite as good as the others for me, but it's still real nice. - 3.75/5
10) Suffer (featuring Illa Ghee and STARVIN B) - The final song on the album finds Tragedy Khadafi, hip-hop veteran Illa Ghee (who just dropped his latest project "Social Graffiti" last year) and STARVIN B all kicking some more braggadocios raps over a hard ass instrumental. The beat and rhymes are dope, but this song is a slight step down when compared to the others. Still, not bad at all. - 3.5/5
I'm going to rate the album
4 / 5
because it's really good. The production is fire throughout the entire tape, with many of the beats having that darker, gritty, boom-bap vibe that Tragedy sounds so great over. While every song feels modernized and is cleanly mastered, each track still is full of that classic Queensbridge sound that has been around for so many years. As far as the rhymes go, you know Tragedy is going to bring the heat and he definitely does. It's crazy to think that this guy has been rapping for well over 20 years and still shows no signs of slowing down. Even crazier is that this project is just the warm up for his "Magnum Opus" album that is set to drop later this year.