It took years of hard work, hustle and dedication, but Long Beach emcee and Westcoast veteran, KXNG CROOKED, has finally delivered his first true classic masterpiece album with, Gravitas. A collaborative album between the C.O.B. general and longtime Wu-Tang Clan affiliated producer/emcee, Bronze Nazareth. It’s a collision of East meets West that finds some of the most hardcore and pure Hip-Hop you will ever hear. That truly sets Crook among the greatest of all-time to ever touch a mic.
From the triumph opener, Emperor’s Arrival (Intro), in which the LBC lyricists opens with the lines, “He was celebrated as the greatest Pharaoh from the old kingdom. Archeologists unearthed his tomb in the year 5080. Buried in a platinum casket dripping in jewels. His mummification persevered every tattoo on his body.” Which was read like a scripture and also adding, “Across his chest lay a sword made of gold and what looked like ancient scrolls in his robes.” Just part of the intro that gives you an idea of perfectly truly a masterpiece album listeners are truly in for from such a master of the mic and God of the boards. When teamed together for some truly classical and powerful music. The intro perfectly setting up the first real track of the album with the Hus Kingpin and Killah Priest featured, Outer Limits. That the almost Egyptian themed production is the perfect backdrop for Crook’s very sick lyrics of, “It’s not an image. It’s not a bunch of gimmicks. I truly stretch the game to its outer limits. Pillage in village with the illest lyrics. So really make your brain hemorrhage. Stop playing with me, it’s not a scrimmage.” While Kingpin and Priest add their own sick complimentary guest verses.
The features, which range from Snoop Dogg to RZA, Ghostface Killah, DMX, Royce Da 5’9”, Ras Kass, Benny the Butcher, LA the Darkman, and many more perfectly complementing the 14 powerful tracks. With tracks like the Bishop Lamont, Compton Menace and Ras Kass featured, From Slave Chains To Handcuffs, one of the most powerful and important tracks you will ever hear. As all four emcees spit such true and impactful lyrics about how much as things are said to have changed for most colored and minorities, in a lot of ways they really haven’t. With Crook’s second verse of, “Oh, everybody is woke. When will it all stop? I was woke before you got your alarm clock. Work on our block probably come from guitar shops. N***as slangin’ crack, performing that hard rock. I knew it was a trap before you started trappin’. I knew you a rat before you started ratting. I was wearing Starter caps before you started cappin’. Why you think they took the information out of rapping?” As well as Ras’ verse of, “England, France and Spain kidnapped Africans. Left us in the Caribbean and went right back again. Dropped us off in Virginia. Sold us down south. Shackles on our wrists, slap us in the mouth. Civil War to Jim Crow and 13. Private prisoners for profit, you ain’t free. Police detain us. The courts remand us. Then they walk us in jail in handcuffs.” Really hitting home about it.
KXNG CROOKED is really at his absolute best solo tracks, I Can Still Remember … , and Soul Drenched. Two very soulful drum backed tracks that finds the LBC native given some of his most his introspective lyrics of his career. Especially on I Can Still Remember… Where over the very soulful thumping drums backdrop, he spits, “Sometimes I want to escape the hood. Everyday something crazy happening. Want to hop in the fast car like Tracy Chapman. I’m trapped in this ghetto and cabinet. Where people mainly hate me cause God gave me black skin. Everybody struggle to be unique. 16’s see my friend laying bloody under a sheet. Cops shot him everywhere except for under his feet. Then they wonder and think why we sing, ‘Fvck tha Police!” While very inspiringly soulful and motivational drums and sax backed production on tracks like the Planet Asia and P.U.R.E. featured, Westside Willie, find Crook spitting not only some of the most inspiringly motivational bars of his career, but that you may ever hear. Such as, “This is Dodger music. This the new blue hat. This the bulletproof coupe with the moonroof back. Just the deuce, deuce trap. Do you remember that? That was boom, boom, clap! This is boom, boom, trap! I got Brons and a fresh pair of Cons. Chuck Taylors out West with the ganj.” While the scratches from DJ Los on Soul Drenched, perfectly compliment the very soulful track so well.
Nearly midway through the album, very soulfully inspiring singer-sample backed tracks like the Kevlaar 7 featured, Change Ur Beliefs. Which is one of the few tracks that Nazareth raps on, is so inspiring and soulful that it perfectly matches Crook’s inspiringly reflective lyrics of, “It was all a dream. I used to read XXL Magazine. Then I landed on the cover in baggy jeans. This rapping thing is happening. Finally cats believe on every track, I bring fire and gasoline.” As well as, “Lets go back. As a teen I snuck into all the concerts. Rocking my favorite artists merch and some Converse. Now them same artists hit me for the hot verse. I pray for patience. It’s funny how God and the clock works.” That shows what a great legacy he has already left and is still adding to that truly set him apart as one of the greatest of all-time emcees. While interludes like, Still (Reprise), and the Snoop Dogg guested, Precious Moments (Interlude), perfectly compliment the very amazing and masterful flow of the album The latter perfectly setting up one of the most standout tracks of the album in the Tristate and L.A. the Darkman featured, French Connection. Which finds L.A.D. giving easily one of the best guest features of the whole album. With such standout verses as, “They never ready. Forever petty, gassed like Getty. Soft Pendergrass, Teddy. Chop ‘em up, machete. I’m Nas and DMX in Belly. You R. Kelly. Never talk on the celly. Stash houses full of jelly.”
Both Crooked and Nazareth really flex their guest feature abilities on the bonus tracks. Recruiting living legend and icon, Ghostface Killah, as well as Benny the Butcher and 38 Spesh on, Buck Shots Remix. A remix of the Ghostface track, Buckingham Palace. While also recruiting living legends DMX, Royce Da 5’9”, and RZA on, Kxng Sh*t Remix and Fresh From The Morgue Remix. With Kxng Sh*t being a remix of the Forever M.C. and It’s Different track King Kong that unfortunately doesn’t add any new verses, while Fresh From The Morgue is a remix of the Bronze Nazareth and RZA collaboration that keeps Nazareth and RZA’s original verses. Just changing up the chorus and adding a verse from Crook. All three bonus tracks not really needed, but at the same time not taking down what’s such a masterpiece classic album. That truly sets KXNG CROOKED among the greatest emcees of all-time in an already illustrious career that is only growing more from his previous work with Slaughterhouse and solo as a groundbreaker with his currently soon to be wrapped weekly series, The Weeklys and it’s original installment he launched as a first of its kind over a decade ago. Gravitas is easily among not only the best albums of 2019 period, but of the last decade.