Thursday, January 17, 2008

Prince Po and TomC3 - "Saga of the Simian Samurai" - Threshold Recordings (2007)

When notoriously slept-on underground duo Organized Konfusion (Prince Po and Pharoahe Monch) parted ways after their last official release The Equinox (1997), no one would have expected that both wordsmiths would have taken such drastically different solo paths. Neither emcee has enjoyed great commercial success while working on their own, (Pharoahe came the closest with his speaker wrecker “Simon Says” off his debut solo album Internal Affairs (1999) ), however both have pushed out solid product since then.
Where Monch has kept closer to the conscious tip, Prince Po continues his journey out into leftfield with his latest project Saga of the Simian Samurai (Threshold Recordings,2007) where he teams up with Bay-area producer TomC3 (known for his 2006 collabo Project Polaroid with Hip-Hop’s resident freakshow Kool Keith); to make heads realize that leftfield is quite a dope place to hang out in indeed.

Simian Samurai kicks off with a short instrumental (“The Saga Begins”) that features some relaxed keys interspersed with some turntable trickery and scratching courtesy of producer TomC3. This track would sound even tighter with some accompanying wordplay however.
Po begins hitting his stride midway through the disc, which is also where he happens to pack all of the heaters that require reloads. On “Candy”, he spits some agile bars about his obsession with a woman who works in the sex industry, over a slinky guitar-lick that would have Jenna Jameson shaking her money-maker.

“Now and Then” has Po taking a trip down memory lane over a bouncy funk-inflected beat where he compares popular trends from his youth to the things that are hot today, “Street Fighter 2 / Lee Majors / In Living Colour / NBA throwbacks…..MySpace /Afros and suede Pumas….”

The chemistry is definitely right on “Apocalyptic Medicine” where Po, and special guests Kool Keith and Motion Man volley tight verses back and forth over a soundscape that gives a nod to the forward-thinking aesthetic that Deltron 3030 and the Def Jux roster share.

The only real hiccup on the album is “Roota To The Toota” which strangely brings to mind the stomach-churning audio cheese “Addams Groove” that MC Hammer produced for the Addam’s Family Soundtrack from the early 1990’s. Just hit skip and everything will be ok.
If Prince Po continues to branch further away from the mainstream on his next effort, like he has on Saga of the Simian Samurai, then he will surely cement his place in the leftfield/experimental hip hop arena as an original voice that brings the promise of something fresh and exciting each time he releases new material

Rating: 8/10.