Some albums make you bob your head, some make you feel nothing, some take you on an epic journey where you feel that you’re not the same person after listening. Well, La Coka Nostra’s newest album Masters of the Dark Arts makes you feel like you just took a hard slap to the face. The music is hard and intense, as the mc’s spit about greed, drugs, violence and religion.
La Coka Nostra is a supergroup, comprised of Danny Boy and DJ Lethal from House of Pain, Slaine from Special Teamz, and Ill Bill. Everlast was formerly in the group, and appeared on their debut release A Brand You Can Trust, but recently left the group.
The two premier rappers in the group (Slaine and Ill Bill) have a very nice contrast with one another. Their voices sound a bit similar but their styles are very different. Ill Bill has a violent delivery and comes with speed and force, while Slaine is typically more laid back and lets his lyrics create the energy. The way the two cooperate in the songs is also nice, as they don’t merely just piggy-back on each other’s verses; instead, the rappers use their verses to talk about separate topics within one theme. For example in “Mossad,” Slaine begins the track rapping about his harsh upbringing, and then Ill Bill focuses on the feelings of paranoia that Slaine brought up in his verse.
As good as the verses are the hooks are terrible. Obviously, the chorus of the song is supposed to stick with the listener and be the most memorable part of the song—that is not at all the case on this CD. These hooks are not memorable and they are not even very profound (you’d think on a lyrically driven album like this that the most profound thoughts would be put in the hook). Really the only hooks I enjoyed were the ones filled with samples (“Mind Your Business” and “Coka Kings” specifically).
DJ Lethal’s presence on the album is definitely felt, and gives the release a nice old-school feel with the scratching and multiple samples. It seems that there are very few rap groups who still have that live feel that La Coka Nostra does (DJ Premier and Stoupe of Jedi Mind Tricks are the only people I can think of that do). The live feel is a very welcome addition to this heavy and energetic album.
Key Tracks: The Story Goes On, The Eyes of Santa Muerte, Malverde Market
Seth Wood-MuzikReviews.com Contributor
August 6, 2012