It was 6 long years ago when Afu-ra first came to our ears on ‘Mental Stamina’ from Jeru the Damaja's criminally underrated ‘The sun rises In the east’ LP. Maybe Afu didn’t stand out to you if you were checking hip-hop back then but he really caught ears on the Sequel ‘Physical Stamina’ from Jeru's next album. Afu has been promising this album for a long time, in fact the first material surfaced around 2 years ago in the form of ‘Whirlwind thru cities’, a track that confirmed suspicions that a bomb was about to hit in the form of the MC Afu Ra. Delay after delay has meant we have had to hold our suspicion down with a bunch of 12" and guest appearances and after a deal gone bad with Gee street ‘Body of the Lifeforce’ has burst out through the independent route.
The album may disappoint some as a lot of this material has been heard before I can count at least 4 singles have dropped from here, and when you throw in B-sides and white labels you realize that half this album has already come out. Take away the 4 interludes from this 18 track album plus the 7 or 8 tracks already released and for all the listeners waiting to hear some new shit could be left wanting more. But lets look at the album for what it is a piece of hip hop that’s definitely worth the listen.
Opening with ‘Soul assassination’ (produced by who? Hmm... I wonder) the album begins with a good start and proves there is a lot to offer from Afu and he does not have to lean on Jeru for the help, which is solidified in ‘Defeat’. This cut is Afu straight battle rhyming along with a trademarked primo beat blasting and humming all over the place. Even ‘Mic Stance’ appears here but for some reason in a remixed form which does little to conquer the version it first bust out with. Both tracks are on the same vibe not just cos they were touched by premier but they hold their own characteristic and attitude. Wu-tang featured cuts like ‘Mortal Kombat’ and ‘Big acts little acts’ (With Masta Killah and GZA respectively) hold a darker, heavier, thoughtful sound and for once Afu manages to outshine GZA, but only because his verse is very bland compared to previous stuff. While we talk about guests, there is a nice collection, whether it be Hanibal and Krumbsnatcha on ‘All that’ or M.O.P. on the all out go for ya gunz ‘warfare’. Although Afu is an underground emcee he strays on a track or 2 by getting the girlie hooks in, on ‘Caliente’ he gets Rasheedah in but this is how it should be done. Attempts to go jiggy club on the track ‘Bring it right’ are tried but there is a lesson to be learned from his verses on this track, just because it looks like, sounds like don’t mean it is.
Rolling with the Gangstarr foundation has certainly done no harm for Afu as he gets the backing of DJ Premier on a bunch of tracks but like any emcee that Primo blesses you have to scrutinize whether they actually have skills of the deejays backdrop is doing the work. Afu has proved hes with the former.