C Rayz Walz is an emcee’s emcee who can rhyme like there’s no tomorrow. While some people first heard him on Battle For Asgard, from Cannibal Ox’s The Cold Vein LP, he has already been doing his thing for many years. A member of Stronghold and part of the Definitive Jux family, C Rayz Walz has a powerful, classic, signature voice and mind-blowing lyrics. Mix the wild style of Redman, the battle lyricism of Canibus, the revolutionary sentiments of Dead Prez and Immortal Technique along with the apocalyptic style of El-P, and people may just begin to get an idea what C Rayz Walz is about.
Hailing from The Bronx, C Rayz Walz had a very tough life. His father was murdered and the young Walz robbed people to get by. Even though he put out self-released albums like The Limelight and The Prelude, his album Ravipops (The Substance), was his first worldwide release on Def Jux. Produced by Belief, Lord Ron, 4th Pyramid, Ste-lo, DJ Black Panther, DJ Etch A Sketch and others, Ravipops was an intellectual yet wild affair filled with pain, fun, anger, happiness, love, hate, and the boom-bap style hip-hop heads love. Guests included MF Doom, Vast Aire, Breezely Brewin of The Juggaknots, Poison Pen, and many more.
These days, C Rayz Walz is a loving father who has found balance in love, his roots, and his music. Still, his emcee skills have only grown stronger. In 2004, he released “We Live: The Black Samurai EP” on Definitive Jux. Short and sweet, The Black Samurai EP is practically a masterpiece and maybe the tightest yet most diverse effort by C Rayz Walz to date. Like a samurai, he comes in quick, sharp, and strong. Sometimes, he goes over people’s heads, but mostly, he gets to the listener directly. The EP is almost like a prayer or a meditation by a samurai. It begins with an Opening Ceremony and ends with Closing Ritual. The EP is melodious enough to be catchy and leave an impression but it still maintains a rough, underground sound. Basically, The Black Samurai EP is an essential purchase for any fan of C Rayz Walz, Definitive Jux, or lovers of the boom-bap.
Some songs are instantly satisfying and will no doubt grow to become classics in time. Crayzeerock (produced by Dub-L) is truly amazing. The groove is funky, thick and perfect for scratching and the flow of the emcees. C Rayz Walz rides the beat perfectly. Lyrikill Da Observer handles the hook: “…Everything’s a hustle from how you hold your head to how you stack your bread…” One of the many beauties of Crayzeerock is that it has an old-school feeling mixed in with an innovative, new school attitude. It is one of those special tracks where the production and the emcee perfectly come together and find a balance. Not only is the song catchy but also it could become very popular if it gets radio airplay. The scratching at the end of the track is the cherry on top of this delicious cake. Overall, Crayzeerock is a song that makes you feel good because it just sounds so damn cool. Rainforever is another amazing track, which features Bleedin Gumz on the hook. Also produced by Dub-L, Rainforever creates a somber atmosphere for C Rayz to rock some emotional verses. The sung hook by Bleedin Gumz is not your typical sung hook either. It is extremely powerful, emotional, and cinematic. Amore is another clever and insightful track that is obviously about love. “…She loves me! She loves me not!…”, C Rayz Walz exclaims in the first part of the hook like a child picking the petals from a flower. In his voice, there is perfect mixture of the childish tone and the hardcore emcee. Produced by Precise, “Amore” has a magnificent beat and sample that is romantic while maintaining the boom-bap atmosphere.
Even though this is an EP filled with new music, there are 2 tracks from Ravipops which are revisited and improved. The opening track, We Live (Belief Mix) was originally produced by Stee-Lo. This remix takes the track to a complete higher level. C Rayz adds a whole new layer of vocals under the chorus using a distorted microphone effect. 3 Card Molly originally was one of the closing tracks on Ravipops and closes the E.P. too. This version of 3 Card Molly (also produced by Belief) is exceptional. C Rayz gets very emotional on the mic and somewhat vulnerable too.”… All for the mo’ / 3 card molly / F*cking up the Icy man in front of everybody! / BX – the place where I’m from / BX – Yo, I love that slum!…”, C Rayz raps in the hook. An incredible aspect of this version is how the beat comes in harder during the 2nd verse, adding more to the emotional aspect of the track.
Even the songs that do not instantly hit the listener have a high quality level. Trudeau (produced by Trudeau) has a catchy hook sung by Rashida, “…I don’t know what you’re looking for / But I just stepped in the door / C Rayz…” DJ Static produced Showgun and uses an Asian sounding melody to accentuate the Black Samurai theme of the track. Single Mothers (produced by Cave Precise) is a touching track dedicated to not only his mother but also all of the single mothers around the world. C Rayz Walz has a deep appreciation for the hardships single mothers have to go through and this track is extremely poignant and moving.
With 12 tracks and 8 actual songs, there is not one wack track or one track that can even be considered filler on “We Live: The Black Samurai EP” by C Rayz Walz. While some songs shine brighter than others, each song has something special inside the beat and lyrics. While Ravipops might have gone over many people’s heads, The Black Samurai EP has enough universal appeal for new listeners but also has some odd and creative sentiments for the true fans. C Rayz Walz is overflowing with creativity and style. As a samurai, C Rayz Walz will live and survive. This is his best work to date.
C Rayz Walz
Black Samurai EP (2004)
Genre: Underground Hip-Hop
Record Label: Definitive Jux