August 24, 2009

Killah Priest - View From Masada (May 9, 2000)

Walter Reed, the only Wu-Tang Clan affiliate who was named after a hospital (contrary to popular belief, U-God took his nickname from a rehab facility and not a hospital), may have taken his rap handle, Killah Priest, from one of the many kung-fu flicks that influenced the Clan, but he was among the first members of the extended family to express displeasure with the Wu in general (and The Rza specifically). After the release of both his solo debut, Heavy Mental, and his Sunz of Man crew's album The Last Shall Be First (both of which dropped in 1998), Killah Priest severed ties with the Clan, choosing to go it alone in the hip hop world.

Which was a brilliant move, by the way, because the only people who bought Heavy Mental and The Last Shall Be First were Wu-Tang fans.

Killah Priest holed up in the recording studio paid for by MCA Records (he was shifted over to this parent company of Geffen after Heavy Mental's release) and created View From Masada without any involvement from the Clan. (Unfortunately, this also meant that he didn't have any assistance from his former friends in Sunz Of Man, who went on to record a follow-up without him.) Instead, he chose to work with the Black Rose Kartel, a merry band of like-minded individuals who were actually Wu-affiliated themselves (sort of). During his down time, Priest had also formed a supergroup, The Four Horsemen, with Ras Kass, Canibus, and Kurupt (from Tha Dogg Pound), and called upon a couple of them for some assistance. While the production was all handled by folks unknown to the mainstream at the time, one man in particular, who produced three tracks on View From Masada, went on to develop a cult following, and by "cult", I mean "is one of the biggest names in hip hop production today" (even though his contributions on here aren't so hot). When you see his name below, you'll know exactly who I'm talking about.

The shedding of Priest's Wu ties also seemed to coincide with the shedding of his fan base, as nobody fucking bought View From Masada except for me, and I think the cashier at Best Buy was shocked that someone actually picked up an album with a cover that looked even shittier than one of Pen & Pixel's creations for No Limit Records. I can say for a fact that I listened to this album only a few times before locking it up in a crate, and each time, I listened to the same fucking song. It was almost as if Killah Priest was deliberately sabotaging his music career, which may help explain why he started to sporadically pop up on Wu-Tang-related projects after View From Masada dropped.

Buyer beware: Heavy Mental this ain't.

Yep, View From Masada is one of those rap albums, the type in which the artist claims that his or her music is "important" and could possibly cure cancer if given half a chance. I'm more interested in Priest's statement "N----z been stealin' from me" because it's immediately followed by "I know who that n---a is!". So, are you going to name names, or what?

Successful in that it maintains the song's theme ("Masada" is another nickname for Killah Priest, or so he claims, and this song is based around his point of view), but a failure in that nothing on here captures your attention in any way whatsoever. As this is the first actual song on the album, I take this to not be a good sign. Fun fact: Just Blaze produced this song. Yes, that Just Blaze.

Justin Blaze handled board duties on this track, too. The Killah Priest I prefer is the elevated shit-talker from Gza's "4th Chamber" or the storyteller from Ol' Dirty Bastard's "Snakes". (I suppose it's just a coincidence that both of the songs I just mentioned were also produced by The Rza. Is that a direct statement regarding the production values on View From Masada? Hell yes.) Boy, I sure do miss that Killah Priest.

Black Rose Kartel member Goldie Mack's one-verse wonder isn't bad, but the music underneath (from Daddy Rose, part of the same crew, who is Wu-affiliated in only the most roundabout of ways) is most definitely not ready for prime time.

Daddy Rose's name is relatively simple to spell, but if you look hard enough, you'll find Salahudin's moniker rendered in many different ways. I'm unsure of any official spelling, because the weird thing about View From Masada is that, even though there are clearly other artists on some of these songs, the only guests that receive any sort of credit (and, I assume, royalty checks) are the ones who have record deals of their own. (You'll be able to figure out who those folks are, trust me.) You can tell that the previous interlude is over because drums crash into the music. It's too bad that Daddy Rose's instrumental isn't salvaged by the percussion, as this song is simply boring. The verses by everybody involved were not bad, though.

The final Just Blaze song on View From Masada, produced prior to the man signing a contract with Roc-A-Fella Records. Priest sounds exactly like a certain Nasir Jones on here, so much so that I was almost expecting to see a writing credit from the man. Even the sorry-ass hook and Trackmasters-lite instrumental (obviously Just has come a long way) sound like a Nastradamus leftover. You'll probably listen to this song once to hear what I'm talking about, but this is so awful that the one time will be more than enough.

This is the only song from View From Masada that I remember ever being played on the radio, and even that was only for a brief period of time. This also happens to be the most "hip hop" sounding track on here. Killah Priest's vocals suck pretty bad, but Rassy, one of his Four Horsemen partners, makes lemonade out of a molehill. This was the only song I ever listened to after I bought View From Masada, and today, I'm questioning even that decision. Strange but true fact: whenever Rassy Kassy's verse gets stuck in my head (usually it's just the first couple of bars, but this has been happening for nearly a decade now), I frequently get it mixed up with (Mad) Skillz and his contribution to "B-Boy Document '99": specifically, I just keep hearing Skillz rapping over this beat after the first two Ras Kass bars slide by. It's strange how my mind works sometimes: I suppose it truly believes that this song is similar to that other one. It also doesn't help that Ras and Skillz are essentially relaying the same message to the listener.

The beat (provided by Shamello and Buddah) reminds me of "The Professional" from Heavy Mental, except with more of a club bent. It's not something that you would ever expect Killah Priest to spit to, and, unsurprisingly, he sounds entirely out of his element. Oddly, I do actually like the beat, though: one of those mixtape rappers who dominate the blog scene needs to jack it and do it justice.

Walter sounds terrible on here, rhyming about some utterly stupid shit, shouting inane threats, and vowing to get some Brooklyn thugs to start robbing people, because he raps only about "real shit". Fuck that! Canibus, another member of the Horsemen clan (I assume Kurupt was working the Carl's Jr. drive-thru window late the previous night and, as such, was unable to attend the day's recording session) rips shit like he used to, back when people actually gave a damn about the guy. Which was cool.

You can't be a certified rap legend if this is only your second album. If you belong in the history books at all, Priest, it's because of your early association with the Wu-Tang Clan: everything else you have to earn. And that will never happen if you continue to release bullshit songs such as this one.

I don't know what's with Wiz's beat, which sounds like incidental music from an hourlong hospital drama, but it definitely is something Priest should have thought twice about rhyming to. The instrumental eclipses his vocals, which may have sounded decent, if I could fucking remember any of them.

I didn't care for Wiz's easy-listening adult contemporary instrumental, but Killah Priest provides us with some rhymes that sidestep quasi-religious psychobabble in favor of internal struggles and successes. He also mentions Poltergeist at one point, which is nice, because I like that goofy horror flick. That clown sitting in the chair scares the shit out of me, though.


Killah Priest plus speed rapping does not equal crazy delicious. He sounds about as awkward as The Notorious B.I.G. did on his own "Notorious Thugs". Also, every other rapper on here isn't rapping as if their ever decision is based upon whether or not they might have to shoot somebody, so what was the purpose of this dumbass song again?

It sure saved Salahudin a lot of time by jacking an existing prayer instead of actually writing a hook. That shit smacks of laziness, and it also doesn't help with the "quasi-religious psychobabble" classification. Which is too bad, as otherwise, this is the kind of song that Priest's fans tend to flock to.

All kinds of useless. Who the fuck buys a Killah Priest album to hear the guy sing? This outro pimps his next album, Priesthood, and View From Masada hasn't even yet evaporated from the minds of the listeners. Yikes. Even Killah Priest has fucking moved on.

FINAL THOUGHTS: View From Masada was the beginning of the end for Killah Priest's career. While Heavy Mental managed to move five hundred thousand copies, none of his other albums matched that success, and Walter soon found himself bouncing from unknown label to unknown label, immedialetly following his wholly predictable dropping from MCA. It doesn't help that View From Masada is boring as shit. With this album, Killah Priest allows listeners a closer look into his mind, but the trip itself is not very enjoyable: it turns out that the thoughts that pass through his synapses are of the "I'm a better rapper than you are because of my spirituality" variety. Priest also tried, unsuccessfully, to prove that he was worth more than his Wu-Tang affiliation, but the quality of the songs featured on here vary wildly. Some of the tracks sound okay, maybe even decent, but, curiously, he tanks when paired up with superior lyricists Ras Kass and Canibus. In all, this disc was a major disappointment, and fans of Heavy Mental would be hard pressed to find anything on here that they liked as much as Priest's debut disc. Besides, most of you two readers don't give a damn about Wu-Tang and have stopped reading anyway, so bliggedy goo goo bah.

BUY OR BURN? Burn if you absolutely have to, but it won't matter either way: this album still sucks. Go out and but Heavy Mental again if you feel the need to support the man's quest for fire.

BEST TRACKS: "When Will We Learn" (lyrics only), "What Part Of The Game?" (Ras Kass performance only); "I'm Wit That" (beat only)


Killah Priest - Heavy Mental
Sunz Of Man - The Last Shall Be First


  1. This wasn't quite the end of KP's career. His recent stuff - the Offering and the other one, something about stained glass - actually have some decent stuff on them. Although no doubt they too sold about 4 copies between them. But then sales are not all.

  2. This is easily Killah Priest's Worst album other than his new one. By a long shot.

  3. yeah KP's worst album ever, everybody go cop "the offering" and "heavy mental"

  4. Any idea when you gonna review "Priesthood" , Max ?

    That was a major return to form imo, one of my favourite KP albums ( after his all time best Heavy Mental off course)

  5. I like this album and I think u r overlooking the excellent lyrics in hard times and pretty much the whole album is a banger it is the worst killa priest album but that's still better than 95% of rap

    1. I only bought this album because I liked the size of the Parental Advisory logo

    2. this album is a banger with excellent lyrics? you must be smokin something