Release Date: 05.21.02
Record label: Koch Records
Genre(s): Rap, Hip-Hop, R&B, etc.
by: carmela wiese
Statistically speaking, in every 50 horrible hip-hop albums that came out so far this year, there is one truly amazing album that makes you think that new flavor has been introduced into the rap scene. Life Force Radio is not one of them.
Still, out of that same group of 50 horrible hip-hop albums that have been released this year, there have been a handful of albums that, in all reality, aren’t that bad. Afu-Ra’s album Life Force Radio is one of those albums.
The sophomoric effort of Afu-Ra, Life Force Radio, has tried to venture off into the rarely explored genre of reggae/rasta/hip-hop that even has a group of featured performers. Sound out of the ordinary? Well, that’s the beauty of this release - it gives the illusion of being an interesting, intelligent, powerful album, while really it’s just an ill attempt at conscious rap.
As with any other rasta-rap album, the addition of the Rastafarian vibe produces energetic, danceable, robust beats. But then with out warning, the fabrication takes a U-turn and ventures out into the no-mans-land of over production combining lack luster looped vocals and dance beats that are less than desirable. This is most drastically noticeable in "Open." The song starts out promisingly enough with some deep beats, but as soon as you put your dancing shoes on you're rudely introduced to the vocal loop of Teena Marie. Her shrill, disorderly wailing is sure to make anyone with an eardrum move on to the next cut.
Lyrically speaking, Life does have a few positive points. The album has featured performances with big name artists including Big Daddy Kane, RZA, and M.O.P. Yet, while the addition of these other music influences on the album does work, the guest appearances have a tendency to carry the album.
Afu does step out with some bold lyrics. The messages Life Force Radio drops are undoubtedly thought provoking (race relations, fatherhood, the recent Sept. 11 disaster, etc.) and evolve beyond the all too familiar rap clichés of money, power, and women. The problem, however, is Life doesn’t take the extra step to make the listener think twice about what's being said.
When all's said and done, Life Force Radio leaves the listener with the feeling something just isn’t right - the feeling that Afu has set up a joke and failed to deliver the punch line. It’s like someone forgot to breathe the life into Life Force Radio. 08-Aug-2002 8:40 PM