Words By DJ Sorce-1
Since making his mark in the game nearly fifteen years ago on The Gravediggaz’ 6 Feet Deep, Killah Priest has shown great promise as an MC. Unique in his tone and flow, Priest at one time seemed to be the next member of the extended Wu-Tang fam to shine. Despite never reaching initial lofty expectations, Priest has maintained a loyal following through countless guest appearances and a slew of solo projects. After a brief hiatus, 2007 saw Priest make a return to form with the critically acclaimed The Offering. In the ’08 Priest is back again with Behind The Stained Glass, a highly original effort that features its share of jewels.
Things start out strong for Priest as producer Godz Wrath utilizes a poignant vocal sample to set the tone of the album with “I Believe”. The vibe of the song is damn near triumphant as Priest spits a short but sweet intro to set things off. While “I Believe” is a solid cut, the 60 Second Assassin collabo “Profits Of Man” is without question the highlight of the album. The string laced production is enough to give the listener goose bumps as Priest spits a trip down memory lane with lines like:”To damn near becoming one of the Clan members/I remember in Brooklyn Gza and Masta Killa/To my last chapters with the Rza/Testimony stops/Ol’ Dirty got knocked/Came home, signed with The Roc/Cocaine combined with rocks, Rick James style/His nickname wild/Ol’ Dirt Dog/It hurt us all/When his hearse disappeared in the fog…”
This song requires heavy rewinding to catch every jewel that Priest drops. There’s no hook, just good old fashioned MCing. Listeners who get the Wu-Tang references will likely feel a twinge of nostalgia for the way Wu and their affiliates used to get down.
Behind The Stained Glass‘s strength lies within its strong lyricism. It is refreshing to feel the urge to rewind a song to catch every last word an MC spits instead of just marveling at production values. “The Beloved (The Messenger)” is one cut worth revisiting again and again as Priest rides a somber, dark beat that nicely fits the overall vibe of the album. He comes to the table with some on point social commentary, demanding that people step their game up and take responsibility for their lives.
Although some joints on Behind The Stained Glass got rewound again and again, others made it difficult to resist fast forwarding. As the album progresses, it becomes apparent that while Priest should receive high marks for what he is saying, his choice of beats and sense of song structure leave something to be desired. Too many cuts suffer from underwhelming production and disappointing hooks.
Priest may not have had the production budget of other famous rappers, but some songs seem to be slapped together without care. This prevents songs with strong lyrics from achieving their potential impact. BTSG follows joints like “The Beloved” with the overly repetitive, piano key laced “Jeshurun,” leaving the listener confused and throwing off the flow of the album. It’s perplexing that Godz Wrath, who handles the entire production of the album, can mesh so well with Priest on one track and then sound so sloppy on the next. Priest seems to suffer from the same fate that has plagued gifted rappers and fellow Horsemen Cannibus and Ras Kass. He has a sick rhyming ability but seems unable put together a complete effort.
Overall, the Hip-Hop heads will like what Killah Priest tried to do with this album. Despite some poor beat selections, Priest made something that was unique. His lyrical prowess and efforts to come to the table with something fresh were much appreciated. That being said, Priest would have received higher marks had he utilized some different producers or put more effort into the overall sound and flow of the album. The end result is a mixed bag that will likely please die-hard fans and fail to win over new ones.