Album: Khalito’s Way
Label: Etheric Records
Rating: 7 / 10
Reviewer: A to the L
Put all thoughts of another thug emcee sampling Pacino flicks out of your head right now. Apart from a similarity in name, Khalito’s EP is a world away from the rent-an-attitude bullshit that’s clogging up the airwaves. Y’see, this Philly resident ain’t on no Beanie Sigel, cap-busting, gun toting flim flam… well not really. Neither is he on the live instrumentation snobbery route that Quest Love and co and treading either… well not really.
Its undeniable that there ARE elements of both types of artists running throughout Khalito’s seven track debut, but overall he’s a much more refined cat. Yes he may well spit street tales, but they’re cut with equal amounts of Mobb Deep grittiness, and GZA-styled abstract spiritualism. Check the opening cut ‘Heaven Sent’ for further evidence. God knows what drugs he was taking when he got on the mic here, but as he trades verses with Escar, its clear that this is a strange type of emcee. As he namechecks the moon, the sun and the stars, and tells us about his philosophy PHD, you find yourself wondering how much of this is really deep, and how much is the same strange Five Percent-styled mumbo jumbo that the Wu often quote when they’re running short of inspired lines. Its actually not a great opener, because if you’re gonna go for this spiritually deep type of stuff, then logic dictates that you gotta have a simple uncluttered beat to allow your words to be heard. This is what is in evidence here – the difficulty is that its TOO simple, comprised of little more than echoing chimes rippling throughout.
Second cut ‘Fear’ however, is much better. A more uptempo cut, dominated by stabbing string samples and a stuttery snare drum, it provides a chilling backdrop for Khalito to send a message to thugs, hustlers, and gangsters. Its similar in theme to Eric B & Rakim’s video for ‘Follow The Leader’, with Khalito’s rapidfire delivery telling tales of murderous revenge.
Unfortunately, things go downhill a little with ‘P.I.M.P.’ before picking up again with ‘Experience, Evidence & Reason.’ For the former cut, think Ghostface’s ‘Wildflower’ and you won’t go far wrong. The only difference is that the beat here isn’t nearly as dope as the one Mr Starks utilized on the “Ironman” album – instead its a lacklustre break which detracts from Khalito’s wickedly misogynistic rhymes. Luckily ‘EER’ brings things back up again, with Khalito spitting an extremely Mobb Deep-esque styled flow of rhymes over a string- heavy head nodder of a beat.
‘Brains’ continues the nasty sex talk with an audacious ode to oral sex dropped over a sparkling Spanish guitar lick, before the buttery ‘Spoiled’ steals the show. Etheric’s Blitzo handles production for the entire album, but his work really shines here – ‘Spoiled’ is a bubbly little cut that stands out as much for the introspective views Khalito spits here as the superb beat. ‘As I Incarnate’ rounds things off and is heavy heavy heavy stuff. The Eastern beat is just disgusting, and Khalito puts the Prodigy hat to the side for a second and tries on his Lakim Shabazz headgear instead – this shit is CRAZY deep. Religious imagery fills every line as he fiercely spits line after line of straight up fire. Its a STRONG way to conclude a solid debut.
Khalito is DEFINITELY a cat to look out for. His flow is confident, his production team certainly makes the majority of these tracks bang – he does seem to have a great chance of blowing up. One to keep an eye on.