February 19, 2008

Killarmy - Dirty Weaponry (August 11, 1998)


Wu B-teamers Killarmy, a rap group that glorifies military warfare in their songs even though not a one of the six members have ever joined any kind of military service, sold enough copies of their debut album, Silent Weapons For Quiet Wars, to warrant the release of a follow up. Dirty Weaponry was placed on store shelves almost exactly one year after their debut, and was one of (if not the) final albums under the distribution arm of Wu-Tang Records/Priority; the label deal would soon fold up faster than an Ikea card table. (Priority records apparently didn't realize that the only members of the Wu-Tang Clan that move substantial units are the ones that are actually part of the original group.)

Killarmy were New York-based rappers by way of Steubenville, OH, where The Rza and his family would summer every year. Allegedly, this town in Ohio was the epicenter of the whole 'Wu-Tang as gun-runner' debacle, which was the reason the FBI had an informant infiltrate the ranks of the Clan. (Thanks, Cappadonna!) Personally, I highly doubt that any of the eight generals and U-God would be stupid enough to endorse something as ridiculous as gun-running, when there is a lot more money in drugs. But that's just me.

Dirty Weaponry was recorded after the group's manager, General Wise, was murdered in the streets of Steubenville. But that may have been just a sad coincidence. Dirty Weaponry was also recorded upon the release of group member Islord, who was in the clink for the majority of the first disc. he makes up for lost time on the second disc, standing alongside Killa Sin, 9th prince (Rza's brother), Shogun Assasson, Dom Pachino, and Beretta 9 (Rza's production partner nowadays), all of whom showcase an incrementally heightened flow and presence, thanks to some guest appearances that a few of them (specifically Killa Sin) clocked in the off season.

Dirty Weaponry didn't sell as well as its predecessor, but with its darker, yet somber tone throughout, I don't think anyone except for an overeager A&R expected this disc to move units. Since Killarmy aren't known for their club bangers, listening to Dirty Weaponry turned out to be the equivalent of being forced to watch The Thin Red Line in history class. I even had to take notes.

Which I will share with you...now.

1. GALACTICS
After a bizarre film sample (I assume), four of the group members (including Islord) catch wreck over an Allah Mathematics instrumental, which is surprising considering the group's allegiance to 4th Disciple. (Don't worry, 4th carries the majority of this disc.) This re-introduction to Killarmy actually works pretty well.

2. ALLAH SEES EVERYTHING
Not bad, but not on the same level when compared to "Galactics", and I'm talking about both the beat and the rhymes.

3. 5 STAGES OF CONSCIOUSNESS
The first (and, up until this point, only) Killarmy song to feature all six members of the group on the same song. Even the actual Wu-Tang Clan doesn't have that much trouble; they just record all of their parts in separate studios spanning the globe, and Rza pastes them all together over some random orchestrated beat he thought of while dipping his honey-dipped blunts into some chile con queso.

4. UNITE TO FIGHT
Not great, but incredibly short, so it leaves your short-term memory just before it gets annoying.

5. MURDER VENUE
Meh.

6. DOOMSDAY (FEAT HOLOCAUST)
Holocaust comes off as the lost seventh member of the group, which is more than anyone can say about the Wu-related group he was supposedly still a part of at the time (that would be the Black Knights, for those keeping score). This song is pretty good, if only because the presence of Holocaust causes Beretta 9 and Dom Pachino to step their game up (relatively speaking, of course).

7. RED DAWN
I didn't like the movie. I only recently saw it for the first time (which is unlike me, since I'm a fucking 80's movie junkie), and while it started off promising, it deteriorated into a two-hour nap for me, and I was distracted by the main Russian bad guy, who looks like my friend's father to such an extent that I'm afraid to talk to him to this day. This song is only barely better than the movie.

8. THE SHOOT OUT
The first (and to my knowledge, only) single. I still like this one ten years later (commence feeling old.....now), but this song can easily be described as the only track with a beat catchy enough to serve as an advertisement for Dirty Weaponry. I remember the video (which was retitled "Obstacle" on BET for some reason...censorship, perhaps?), in which The Rza sits on a throne while the members of Killarmy run through an obstacle course in order to prove themselves to The Abbott. One of many heights in pretentiousness for Prince Robert Diggs.

9. BASTARD SWORDSMAN (FEAT HOLOCAUST)
Holocaust out-raps all three of the Killarmy members that bothered to clock in that day.

10. LAST POET
Decent, and yet uncomfortable to listen to. It ends with a George Bush (the elder) sound bite, in which he refers to Saddam Hussein; he must be really happy that his son actually finished the job he began (which is amazing in and of itself, since George Bush can't even finish his dinner without assistance). The worst part of this song, though, is the fact that Dom Pachino saw fit to change his rap name to PR Terrorist for the entirety of Dirty Weaponry (a name he only uses today when he wants to shock someone, due to the events of September 11, 2001), and 9th Prince makes the mistake of calling himself Saddam. Yeah, that's a great idea, 9th. Here, I also have a metal fork that you can use to stab this electrical outlet. You know, before it stabs you.

11. SERVING JUSTICE
The only song on Dirty Weaponry in which they actively promote their Wu-Tang membership. Pretty decent, for what it is.

12. WHERE I REST AT
Not that great, but still better than U-God's album.

13. PAIN
I never once thought that Killarmy would be the Wu-Tang affiliate group that would spawn the most solo albums; I thought that Sunz of Man would easily take that title. So I was wrong. (It happens...rarely.) Anyway, this song features more violent lyrics over an strikingly calm beat, just like every other song on Dirty Weaponry; it may as well be the final song presented.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Killarmy are still Wu-affiliates, but you wouldn't know it by listening to Dirty Weaponry, where they don't even try to grab a chunk of the sword-swinging audience. They're still not the greatest of lyricists (Killa Sin acquits himself well, but 9th Prince and Dom Pachino still sound a little forced to me), but with nobody to compare themselves with, everyone does a good job. This is clearly not a high-energy listen, and nothing here will ever receive anything that remotely resembles radio airplay, but taken as a total package, it's not bad.

BUY OR BURN? Surprise! I would actually recommend a purchase, but with one caveat: it only applies if you're a Wu-Tang fan that appreciates their attempts to branch out. 'Regular' hip hop fans will probably be nonplussed by these six guys, but that's your loss. I still say, though, that the idea of a group made up of six rappers pretending they're going into war is a tough sell in America, so they have that going for them, which is nice.

BEST TRACKS: "Galactics"; "Doomsday"; "The Shoot Out"

-Max

RELATED POSTS:
Killarmy - Silent Weapons For Quiet Wars

8 comments:

  1. the most felonious vocalist in the wide world of showbusinessFebruary 19, 2008

    I enjoy this album and their first effort, primarily because Killa Sin and Holocaust are my two favorite Wu-affiliates ever. Killah Priest and Ghostface's boy Trife have also earned my respect. As for Killa Sin and Holocaust, I would place them above all non Wu-Tang Clan Wu-Tang members and also above U-God, Cappadonna, and possibly Masta Killa. I've already told you how I feel about early Holocaust and I love Killa Sin's verse from Younger Gods off of the Wu-Chronicles album, among other appearances of his.

    Looking at my comment here, it's pretty clear that Wu-Tang got downright smurfy with the Wu's and Killa's.

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  2. Ha, this was released on my 14th birthday. Can't believe I was only 14 then! Insane. It doesn't seem that long ago!

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  3. Max, are you done with the Wu reviews yet? Eh bud bud? I mean, there can't be that many Wu records left...or can there..dun dun dun!

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  4. anonymous ... he's not even half way through the catalogue lol ...
    Wu tang Forever !!!!!!!

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  5. Regarding this album and Killarmy:

    Killarmy ranks just below Sunz Of Man as my favorite Wu affiliates and I actually enjoyed the overwhelming majority of this projects and I feel "Quiet Weapons For Silent Wars" was a classic album. This album was a slight step down but I liked "Murder Venue". Islord's completely offbeat/non rhyming "style" is acceptable but Killa Sin really should've had more of a presence in this group over their careers. Holocaust spit some heat on this album as well (too bad he let the dust win and lost years of his career because of it).

    The lone single was "The Shoot Out/The Cook Out" 12' "(The Cook Out" didn't make the album...duh!)but BET called the video "The Obstical" and didn't show the full video except for once on that Friday when they get the Wu logo branded on themselves and they show the dead bodies of those that didn't make it.

    The final album came out on 9/11 and their threats of terrorizing the U.S. and overthrowing the government pretty much killed their careers. Anyone seen Shogun Assasson lately? Beretta 9 AKA Kinetic is chillin' with Choco and RZA right now,

    One.

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  6. It's all about the beats with Killarmy and I love how the production is really ragged and raw and the mixes are sometimes fucked up like the intro to "Allah Sees Everything" and "Pain" is one of the weirder beats you'll ever hear outside of maybe some of Kool Keith's self-produced stuff, but that's what makes 4th such an awesome producer. To me, a great hip hop producer is guy who can use any kind of source and make a dope beat - like you could give DJ Premier an old Sesame Street record and he'd probably find some sample on there that he'd flip into an MOP style banger. That's the greatness of 4th Disciple, just an innate understanding of making great beats.
    As far as 9th Prince, Killa Sin, and the rest of the gang goes, I would say to just look up "mediocre" in the dictionary but that would be a cheap shot and if I've learned anything from the reviews on this site, it's that cheap shots have no place in hip hop review blogs.

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  7. I really liked this album but no songs really stood out to me aside from "The Shoot Out." The good songs on here are definitely worth your time but they don't jump out at you like Killarmy's other material. Still a pretty good album, nonetheless. I thought "Unite To Flight" sounded appropriately dark and intimidating - a really awesome song.

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  8. Great album. But under NO circumstances whatsoever is this better than their debut.

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