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Sunday, July 22, 2012

[Shelved Classics] One Man - "Crime & Punishment in America"

A discussion about 4th Disciple's brilliant production work on Killarmy's "Silent Weapons For Quiet Wars" over @ The T.R.O.Y. Forum sparked my interest in revisiting the Shelved Classics section of this blog. I don't really think 4th Disciple need no longer introduction here, but a few interesting poiints can be made. He first met up with The RZA when the latter lived in 4th and about half of Killarmy's home of Steubenville, Ohio for a period of time - spreading knowledge about the NOI and their 12 jewels. 4th Disciple, who was a superb producer in his own right, was soon invited to be a part of the Wu-Elementz and in 1994 became the first producer to work on a Wu-Tang Clan solo album besides RZA when he got a co-producer credit for Method Man's "Sub Crazy". It was first in 1997 that his name really started to ring bells amongst hip-hop heads, as he got the chance to provide no less than five stand out cuts on the multi-platinum selling "Wu-Tang Forever". This was soon followed by the release of "Silent Weapons For Quiet Wars", the '97 debut of 4th's own group Killarmy, which was featured six emcees, made up of members hailing from both Sreubenville and NYC. Aside from two RZA beats, 4th Disciple produced the album in its entirety and arranged and molded it in to a dark, haunting sonic masterpiece. It was these two releases that once and for all solidified his name as a genius producer with a unique sound vision.

Besides his work with Wu-Tang Clan and its many affiliates, 4th produced albums worth of material for lesser known artists that unfortunately never saw the light of the day (another day I'll make a post on The Orphanage crew). One such project in particular was the immaculate "Crime & Punishment in America" starring the mysterious Ohio native One Man. Not much information is available on either the album or the artist, and while he's not the sharpest rhymer 4th recorded with, his mixture of political, afro-centric rhymes, and heartfelt, deeply personal lyrics more than makes up for any shortcomings on the technical side of things. Production wise, 4th Disciple's vintage mid-'90s sound is quickly recognized with all of its trademarks - breakneck drums, multi-layered tracks often incorporating string sections and music with symphonic qualities, avoiding the typical funk and soul grooves commonly associated with '90s boom bap - giving the music an epic feel in creating a sort of hip-hop symphony. Together these two go together like you wouldn't believe - peep the haunting center piece of the album, "Black Sheep", where 4th's saxophone driven beat and One Man's brutally honest lyrics about growing up hard together creates images and feelings as clear as any cinema will produce.

There's little info on when this in reality was recorded, or even if it originally was intended as an album, but the information sheet released with the CD states that at least parts of the music found here were recorded in 1994. This means it predates the Killarmy debut and "Forever" joints by three years, going back to a time where really the only released 4th production was N-Tyce & Meth's "Hush Hush Tip", which was co-produced by The RZA. The then unknown 4th's unconventional production style, and One Man's personal experience as a poor black man in America could not have been an easy sale to whatever mountain climbing A&R they might have shopped the album too, but it makes it clear why RZA made sure 4th Disciple were included in the Wu-Tang fold. 

There's also a chance that the album was recorded but lost in 4th's vaults, until it was found around the year 2006, considering the release of a very limited edition digital release of the album in 2007, made available together with another nine track mini-LP of unreleased productions entitled "The Best Of 740: Unreleased Classics" . The latter is getting a proper re-release this year but the, in my opinion, superior "Crime & Punishment in Ameirca" is still not available in any official capacity. This is something no 4th Dsciple and/or Killarmy fan should allow themeselves to miss out on hearing, so make sure to grab the free download below. I also added a 13th bonus track featuring both artists, lifted from 4th's original '99 solo debut; "The Steel Valley Project Vol. 1" (remember fellas?), which will make for another interesting post another day. Enjoy this gem and TURN IT UP!!

01. "Nowehere to Run"
02. "Deadly Missionz"
03. "Next Level" (Ft. Juvenile)
04. "Interegations"
05. "Evolution"
06. "Game #7" (Ft. Killah Priest)
07. "Pain Growz"
08. "Black Sheep"
09. "Symphony Of Life"
10. "Heavy Berdenz"
11. "Attak the Slave Master"
12. "Lass Days" (Ft. Unknown)
13. "Just For You" [*]

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