King Sun was a rapper who was primarily active during the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. He came right at the tail-end of the “pro-Black/socially conscious” movement in rap. But he just never caught on in a major way, unlike many of his peers. Lyrically speaking, the man was right up there with greats like Rakim, Melle Mel, and KRS-One. He was affiliated with the 5 Percenters and therefor often filled his rhymes with esoteric knowledge, but he also didn’t shy away from calling out wack MC’s to battle, either. You can read a lot more about King Sun HERE
Today I’m going to review his second, and best, album, RIGHTEOUS BUT RUTHLESS. Originally released in 1990 on Profile Records, and features 10 songs. And right from the start the King pulls no punches, with his opening track BE BLACK, in which he calls out the many Black folks of the time who putting on the image Afrocentrism, but weren’t really living it.
He continues to drop knowledge on the tracks THE GODS ARE TAKING HEADS, which features guest-verses from the members of the rap group (and fellow 5 Percenters) Poor Righteous Teachers and UNIVERSAL FLAG, while on the song STUNTS he warns about a particular type of woman (a “stunt”) who sleeeps with everyone is no good. 25 years later, as an enlightened adult, I can now view that song as possibly a tad misogynistic…but it’s funny. And then on the song BIG SHOTS he shows off his storytelling skills, telling the story of a petty crook who gets out of jail and slowly builds himself up as big time drug kingpin.
But King really shines on the next 4 tracks, where he shows off his rhyming skills and willingness to take on any other rappers. He’s got braggadocio lyrics that burn, with the beat is fast, slow or mid-tempo.
KING SUN WITH A SWORD
I’m in the mood to intrude with a power move/I’m still waitin for the others to show and prove
You’re gonna learn not to tamper with Islam/I’m blowin everybody up with this bomb
Sounds like nothin but somethin to do/Visualize your condition when I get through with you
Dragged and ragged and put away in a body bag/The mic stuck up in your mouth like a dog tag
Tell the truth, you’re afraid to come near me/I can see it in your eyes, you fear me
SOFT SHOE BOOTY, which is one long non-stop verse for almost the full 4 minutes.
I was gonna let you slide, but I decided not to/Don’t even try to run, cause I got you
Trapped like a rat, your tail bein squeezed/In the trap I set, caught you goin for the cheese
COLD NEW YORKIN’
I’m blazin like fire, rippin through silk/Puttin rhymes to the rhythm like cookies in milk
You wanna taste it? You wrote a rhyme and I erased it/I said a line and like a crackhead you based it
After you smoked, did you fiend for another one?/When I resign, there could never be another Sun
This is a rappers whose songs you need to sit and listen to several times to make sure you catch exactly what he’s saying. Like I said, I think he’s a lyrical great, and if you pay attention, I think you’ll agree.
And he slowed down a bit for the prerequisite “love song” of the album (after LL Cool J’s “I Need Love”, every other rapper at the time tried to do love songs too), UNDERCOVER LOVER, which somehow manages to make infidelity sound romantic…
A great album. Perfect for fans of REAL hip-hop. Chacebook rating: 5 STARS