If there is one thing the City of Brotherly love is known for in regards to Hip-Hop, its uncompromising street music. From the State Property crew, to Jedi Mind Tricks and Outerspace, Philly is a breeding ground for hardcore Hip-Hop. Chief Kamachi is no different, as the gruff voiced emcee epitomizes that early 90's boom bap feel. After paying his dues in the underground scene for years by appearing on various 12-inch singles, the The Army Of The Pharaohs member finally released his debut album Cult Status in 2004. The album was easily one of the year's most slept on LP's, as the album's intense energy and unique flare made it the debut we all hoped for. Now a year later Chief Kamachi is back with the JuJu Mob for their debut album Black Candles. Just like Cult Status, Black Candles relies on the same fierce energy and take no shit approach.
Even though there are a couple of conceptual tracks sprinkled about, Black Candles succeeds due to its dark and powerful energy. Kamachi combines with Reef The Lost Cauze, State Store, and Charon Don to form a vicious four-headed monster. "Black Of Dawn" opens up the album perfectly, with its haunting operatic backdrop, as each emcee rips the track to shreds. "No Hard Feelings" is another take no prisoner's attempt, as Chief Kamachi steals the show with his opening verse. And on the flip side, "Radios" finds the Chief and The JuJu Mob taking shots at the corrupt and political radio stations. "Look at how they hatin', my tracks they won't play it, until I lit the play list on fire, and burnt down the station".
The majority of Black Candles follows a similar pattern, as those in love with grimy street music will appreciate efforts like "Situation", "Akbar", and "Burning Candles". However, the only difference between Cult Status and Black Candles is the drop in consistent production. Unfortunately, the not all of the beats on Black Candles are memorable. The plotting keys of "This" makes for an awkward effort, as the group attempts to switch up their follow to adjust to the beat. Unfortunately, Kamachi and The Mob stumble along the way. The spicy Cajun sound of "Voodoo Doll" is another misstep that finds the foursome becoming too experimental in an attempt to appeal to the ladies.
Besides a few other bland beats (My Squad & Right!), Black Candles is a satisfying debut from Chief Kamachi and The JuJu Mob. While it won't win any awards for creativity, you will be hard pressed to find a harder underground street album this year.