REVIEW: Kamal – AKA RJ Block

AKA RJ Block

Artist: Kamal

Album: AKA RJ Block

Label: Dapwati Entertainment

Rating: 0 / 10

Reviewer: A to the L

*** Note from A to the L: I reviewed this EP by Kamal around September 2001. When I informed Kamal of my review, he disagreed with my score, and so, in the interests of fairness, I decided to pass it to my man Adrunk. You can see Ad’s re-review here. ***

Straight outta New Jersey, (and not to be confused with recently self-renamed Q-Tip aka Kamaal The Abstract), Kamal sent me this EP sampler of his full length “AKA RJ Block” album which is available at his own site (see link above). The press release states that that he’s been getting some play in NY and NJ clubs, and that people in Vermont have been able to check him out on WGDR. Looks like he’s been getting his hustle on, and thats to be admired. Lets see, however, if his music can stand up to the Altrap.com taste test…

‘Born To Be Large” is the first track, and to be honest I’m not feeling it at all. You’ve probably guessed that this is gonna be one of those “I got money” tracks. Boring. Tired. Cliched. Now couple the uninspiring production, and the fact that Kamal’s lines and style on here wouldn’t pass back in the 80’s, and this is one that needs to be skipped. Seriously, some of the lyrics here are straight butt…

“My rap is cream, and smooth like butter,
I knock sucker emcees down in the gutter,
Do what I do to make shit happen,
Thats why I got to keep on rapping
Let me tell you all about whats it like to be,
In the upper echelons of society,
Got the world in the palm of my hands,
I’m even known in foreign lands,
I’ve travelled the world extensively,
Livin’ large and expensively.”

Lets hope things pick up from this… ‘Wait And See’ is an R’n’B cut, with some old school flavour, reminiscient of the Isley Brothers. Its definitely an improvement from the last track, and luckily the fact that its an R’n’B track means that Kamal gets off easy here, as he drops another below average verse near the end of the cut. (Of course everyone knows that rappers use throwaway lines when they guest on R’n’B cuts, cos they’re keeping their strongest material for their own joints. Don’t they?!)

‘Big Booty Girls’ is a tribute to um… Big Booty Girls. A simple, but bouncy cut. Unfortunately more sub-par rhymes and a totally cheesy hook spoil the whole thing.

The intro for ‘Look At You Now’ features a throbbing bassline, and a good 2pac impression by Kamal as he chants the title over and over. Then he starts to rhyme, and things fall apart. Shit, I really hate to rag on people, especially up and coming artists – so lets cover the final two tracks quickly before I get too cynical.

‘Spanning The Globe’ sounds like it has a sample of Pink Floyd’s ‘Brick In The Wall’ hiding in there, while ‘Checkin’ You Out’ starts with some oriental windchimes, and then goes into another retro R’n’B influenced number. Again though they both suffer from (way) below-average rhymes.

Ok here’s the jury’s verdict. Like I said I hate to piss over people’s hard work, especially when its up and coming, or unsigned artists, cos I know that some record companies can be influenced by how the press receive albums. However I also feel that I have to call it like it is, and in my opinion, this is wack. The rhymes are really poor – Kamal’s flow feels forced, even when spitting the simplest of lines, and some of the actual lines he says are laughably weak.

I’ll stop here before I say much more. Unfortunately for Kamal, this one gets the thumbs down.

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