Artist: Cy Marshall Law
Album: Hip Hop in the Flesh
Invoking his bad self with the line “I set up a blind date for you to meet the flow”, Cy Marshall Law devotes his “Intro” to praising his rhyme technique. “Conscious rap, ignorant rap, whatever you want”, he states. And this duality emerges as he drops Biblical references on the heels of the word ‘faggot’. Similarly, consider the couplet from “Mr. Flames”: “On the mic I’m respected like the Pope in Vatican City […] I don’t need a video with asses and titties.” Demonstrated here is the humorous effect achieved by the juxtaposition of street culture and comparative religion, which emerge as two of Law’s focal points (classical studies, too, is an evident influence).
The production element of the record is a mixed bag. In the overrated tradition of Funk Flex, much of the record uses well-trod breaks and familiar instrumentals (e.g. Madlib and Madvillain) with original verses dropped upon them. But the producers credited on the CD sleeve stand out as well-utilized entities: Kane USA comes with a B-3 sounding groove and some nice turntablism on “Skit Slam – Origin of This”; Logrithmic brings heavy guitars and classic boom-bap; on “Dream of Jeanie”, Rutger brings rhythmic thump underscored with warbled electric keys and a down-played mid-eastern feel that doesn’t overplay it’s hand; Analogic brings two bobbing tracks that fall in between Hi-Tek and Pete Rock.
“All I ever did was try to rep NJ / People talk shit, but fuck what men say”, says Law, hailing from the black-sheep state. Yet he also drops a casual line regarding his native roots in London, which leads me to believe that, to law, regionalism isn’t a top priority. From the shores of New Jersey to the peak of Mount Olympus, Cy Marshall Law is primarily concerned with what you are doing to make waves or footprints. “Will they forget? Will you die without respect?”, he queries on “My Mark”. Law does not pretend to have achieved his life’s work yet, but he is striving: “There’s always more to learn so I constantly improve”. From “Intro” to “My Mark”, improvement is the overriding theme, even when the message relies on misogynistic similes (“Work the system like a pimp does bitches”).