The Last Emperor - Music, Magic, Myth      
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written by Hugo Lunny    
The Last Emperor has been plagued with a selection of misfortunes with regards to his music releasing career. After a few prominent and well respected guest appearances/collaborations and a legendary 12" release ("Secret Wars"), Jamal Gray was destined to go down in history, as, beneath Dre, we were to hear him properly debut. Things didn't pan out (which he addresses on this album on the track "Hold On") and supposedly, he would fall back to release his album on Rawkus. Yet again, things didn't work out. However, Raptivism realized the potential and ability that The Last Emp possesses and will be finally releasing his debut late August.

"Music, Magic, Myth" combines the elements that the title implies. Though the latter two are solely conjured by words and feelings which the music evokes, they're assembled wonderfully in a befitting manner. From the hilarious introduction, where The Last Emperor is summoned to a mystical time to help protect the "empire" (in a medieval sense, not the "Star Wars" sort). Through to surreal tracks, such as the intensely powerful "One Life." Set Free produced the deeply involving beat that talks of what many of us discuss; that we have but "One life." However, the most powerful element of the track is former Gravediggaz member, Poetic's verse. For those unaware, it was the final one he recorded. Within it, he talks of his experience with colon cancer and savouring his final stretch. Esthero accentuates the feeling of Last Emp and Poetic's verse's with her passionate singing.

Throughout his debut, The Last Emp provides a variety of entertaining similies and manages to keep his verses entertaining, often thought provoking also. "Single Mother" is a prime example of Emp's talents. He discusses individuals and their endeavours before entering a tale about a "Single Mother." "Repetition" (Over And Over") also is a thought provoking tale about life. The descriptions I've provided are very general, evidently, but I believe you'd appreciate listening to Emp's tales more than my summary.

The production on "Music, Magic, Myth" is excellently handled. Prince Paul, Ayatollah, Madsol and The Beatminerz handle the majority of the beats. Set Free, however, steals the show with that from "One Life." Also, very noteworthy is Amand Van Helden's beat on "Shine," a track where The Last Emp talks about being appreciated by his partner. Not to mention, the beautifully laidback beat by Madsol on "Prisoner".

As a debut, The Last Emperor has managed to almost supercede expectations. My only real quarm about the album are the occasional sub-par lines and one or two hook mistakes ("Some Love, Some Hate").

"Music, Magic, Myth" also features some of Last Emp's earlier gems including "Animalistics" and "Meditation".

"Music, Magic, Myth" lives up to its title. I metaphorically raise a glass, and toast to his future work. Maybe we'll see him and Dre re-unite. "Hold On."

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