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Tuamie/Fly Anakin - Emergency Raps Vol. 4 Music Album Reviews

When emcee Fly Anakin and producer Tuamie connect inside a sound infatuated with the hip-hop of the past, it becomes a launch pad to new life.

It would be easy to hear the lush, crate-digging loops of Tuamie and the tongue-twisting bars of Fly Anakin and write off Emergency Raps, Vol. 4 as two twentysomethings who grew up watching too many episodes of “Rap City.” And though Fly Anakin—ringleader of the Virginia-based label Mutant Academy—is the same emcee who once said his dream was to “rap on an unreleased RZA beat from like ’95-’97,” this too is selling the producer/rapper combo short. Because when the two connect inside a sound infatuated with the hip-hop of the past, it becomes a launch pad to new life.

Fly Anakin, though capable, doesn’t pack his verses with lyrical gymnastics. The Richmond, Va. rapper is aware of a current climate that rewards brevity and straightforwardness. His rhymes are precise and purposeful. He shines on Emergency Raps, Vol. 4 with his imagery, like when he uses his nasal voice, begging for a breath on “Murray’s” to descriptively outline his journey from braids to waves: “Tried to brush it out but that don’t work/It take finesse, caress, that open palm flow breaking your neck.” In that same verse, he seamlessly transitions from his most vivid bars into flexes: “I had the 360s in about three days.” That boast was effective enough to make me stressfully recall memories of my lengthy year-long journey watching YouTube hair gurus, brushing, and not missing a night without the durag tied air-tight, to reach similar success.

Anakin’s detail isn’t a skill that could just be picked up from studying the legends of the genre, it’s a gift. Whether he is showing his appreciation for Method Man’s spot on “Shadowboxin’” by dropping in Easter eggs like, “I haven’t had a nightmare since the Wes Craven” or settling into Tuamie’s head-knocking drum-kicks and creamy soul flips on “Karl Kani” to spit about why he never lets his guard down (”I’m insecure for my own protection”). Anakin knows he’s good, which contributes to an immensely cocky presence on the mic.

Throughout Emergency Raps, Vol. 4, the old soul of Tuamie lives in his loops. Though the influence of beat-making icons like Pete Rock and DJ Premier are present, it doesn’t constrain the ATL-bred producer’s creativity—Anakin isn’t being deceitful when he boldly claims on “Katomate” that he has the “best beat selection in the underground.” Tuamie is a puppet master, knowing exactly what he wants out of the rappers he selectively chooses to grace his beats. On “HolOnHolOn,” he deliberately raises the energy level of Anakin by forcing him to compete with an overpowering vocal sample. Then on “Gold Accord” Tuamie digs into his dirtiest drums and excites Anakin into responding with his grimiest raps. And on a whim, Tuamie can surprise and utilize a gospel choir sample on a beat like “Travolt Pt. IV” ready to soundtrack a reverend exiting the Sunday morning service.

If Fly Anakin has any glaring weakness it’s finding a way to create sticky hooks and make them pop. But to Anakin and Tuamie, choruses are meaningless. This is an album about the raps and a producer in his own space flexing his sampling chops. They don’t want to soundtrack your party, they want you to put your headphones on, and take note at two artists aware of their strengths and mastering them together.

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