In the Hip Hop industry, being labeled as "underground" can be your battle cry or your epitaph. Attempts at a cross over have yielded such horrible Hip Hop as anything after 14 shots to the dome by LL or anything by Canibus. Lurking out from your murky underground can be your jackpot or your downfall. This complicated game has seemingly been mastered by Stoupe, Ikon, and Jus Allah on there lyrical/musical masterpiece 'Violent By Design.'
Sculpted by: ethereal samples, crooning vocals, and stuttering war-like drum beats, these 3 have carved a niche into what we call "underground" hip hop and have formed it into a commercial/underground hybrid capable of reeking havoc on the music industry. Ikon and Jus Allah have crafted a style that can only be explained as hungry. They spit each syllable as if they are trying to reach a huge audience. And Stoupe, the architect of this "Trinity" has come upon the scene as one of Hip Hop's premier producers.
In "Violent By Design" all these elements come together to form a formidable opponent to wackness everywhere. Creativity is given on every track while still staying true to their "intellectual; deep and dark" style. Standout tracks like "Retaliation", with its unsuspecting intro and subsequent monologue that lead into the song set the tone for its content. Ikon spits his verse with ferocious lines like; "Witness the art of combat / The center is where the bombs at / It's illegal for the feeble to see beyond that" and "On a mission to meet your savior / A pitch fork through your bitch heart, Castlyvania / Slaying ya, we blaze all men." Let us not forget Jus Allah either as he is not overly outshined by his Caucasoid counterpart. He comes with such lines as "Your physical mass / Is converted to ash / Allah's wrath is engraphed on your epitaph" in "Executioners Dream." And, "Raw poems / Bury your body in catacomb / Rip your soul from your limbs like brims from Jim Jones / In the twilight zone we disperse cowards / Vampires, that stalk earth on reverse hours."
Stoupe's beats are more like theme music to a dark, dark movie. There are no weak beats on this album at all proving that Stoupe is one of the hottest producers on the market. The beats compliment Ikon and Jus Allah's style's so well.
Guest appearances were well executed and well placed here. Historically guest appearances were reserved for semi-skilled emcees that wanted to boost sales by putting big names on their albums. Not in 'Violent By Design.' The guests fit in with each track that they're on and sound like they are a part of this "movie" instead of rappers that make cameo appearances.
Now while we sing the praises of JMT we must not overlook the fact that there are flaws to this album. Many tracks on the album we have heard in some form or another. 'Trinity' and 'Heavenly Divine' have all been out for nearly a year. 'Exertions' is a derivative of '5 Perfect Exertions' by Army Of The Pharoahs. 'Speech Cobras' was released in early 2000 and 'Ghengis Khan' and 'Retaliation' were released 2 weeks before album was. Plus, there's the fact that many will see this album as being more "commercially" acceptable. In their 1st LP, JMT came over on a different vibe, with their talk of ehlo heims and holographic images of Christ. This album breaks away from the conspiracy thoughts and speak in more conventional ways.
But all together, upon examining the LP we find plenty of great reasons to buy this release. It's an awesome piece of music, well worth purchasing.