Holy Ghost 2 is urban alchemy at its best.
My definition of urban alchemy is using the elements of the environment to achieve the highest elevation of one's transformation. Just as base metals were used in the traditional form of alchemy, heavy base sounds and heavy metal loops are required to achieve the same goals of an urban alchemist. If gold is the outcome of traditional alchemy, then "goal" is the outcome of urban alchemy. Reaching the highest level of one's potential is paramount. The friction that creates the necessary heat needed to start the process of transformation is usually the daily trials and tribulations of one's personal journey. What most people view as obstacles in the hood, are in fact, triggers used to spark the energy needed to begin the process. With each journey being different, the level and temperament of each individual bring about a unique vibration to the equation. When blended with another's vibration, we get a specific formula that becomes alchemical. Most people call it "chemistry" for short. Brother Rich aka Blackmagik363 and Cambatta have reached the highest level of "alchemistry" possible with Holy Ghost 2.
Ten years ago, Brother Rich was making beats, but he wasn't performing black magik! The first Holy Ghost project was a spontaneous act of combustion brought about when two powerful forces converge on each other. Each representing the properties lacked by the other, creating a synergistic balance that opened a black hole (Holy) that allowed true spirit (Ghost) to be present. Holy Ghost 1 was amazing, but it only represented potential. It only laid out the "ingredients" or step by step process to perform the ultimate ritual. Brother rich had to complete his initiation into the higher sciences of metaphysics, occult science, numerology, astrology, and wholistic health to prepare him his transformation. Even replicating himself in the form of his son Sirius was an intricate part of the process. He was now a vessel in which harmonious frequencies could flow through. When I spoke with him about his creative process, he told me that each drum machine, keyboard or sampler held a different spirit or entity inside of it and he would have to dial up the right combination of patterns to summon the necessary energy needed to perform his black magik! That's alchemy at its highest level. If he required feminem energy, he knew which machine to summon. If he needed warrior drums, he knew which machine to summon, etc. But none of this would matter without the perfect wordsmith to articulate and interpret the nuances of the sounds being brought forth. Enter…Cambatta!
Cambatta is synesthetic, meaning he can see sound and taste words. As a result, he knows what "salad dressing," condiment, or sauce to place in each sentence spoken to flavor each verse just right. He gives a new meaning to the term "food for thought." He ability to "see" sound affords him the luxury of filling in the empty spaces within a verse like none other that has come before him. His ad-libs are multi-dimensional. You don't just hear his verse; you experience them! His shamanistic understanding of hallucinogens accelerates and enhances his ability to break linguistics laws that others are severely governed by. In other words, Cambatta is in possession of cheat codes that make it unfair in one's attempt to lyrically challenge him. For a more extensive breakdown on cambatta's gifts, see my previous review of his prior works Urbanx.nyc. Now let's get into Holy Ghost 2.
The opening song, "The Conjuring" gives the audience a bird's eye view into the thinking process of Cambatta's writing style. It is unorthodox in the sense that he seems to submit to the will of the elements of the song, as opposed to imposing his will on the track. Becoming a vessel is not as easy as It seems, you must eliminate the ego to do so. Cambatta flawlessly demonstrates that he is immortal, and his energy exists way beyond the physical. As long as his words are spoken, read, and experienced, he will forever be.
"Journey of Heru, featuring Rafijah Siano delivers lyrical excellence from the beginning of the track. The hook sets the tone with a massive reggae style chant that immediately gets the head nodding. And cambatta goes way in and way up with an augmented flow of 3 syllable cadences that allow for the listener to easily interpret the unspoken parts of his rhyme.
The title track Shaka Zulu empowers its listeners with inner G so powerful it can barely be contained on the track. Blackmagik's cinematic intro; similar to that of the coming attractions of a movie trailer accelerate the climatic anticipation of Cambatta's lyrical explosion. Then Boom! The song explodes. In a world where true masculinity is no longer celebrated lyrically, visually or culturally, Shaka Zulu is full of testosterone. The bars, the hook, the track all honor the true legacy of hip-hop through the eyes of a warrior.
Last breath is one of my favorite tracks. I don't know where Cambatta's rhyme ends, and the hook on the song begins. His ability to have what appears to be multiple hooks and bridges connecting verses is unparalleled. The melodic chords provide just enough suspense for Cambatta to paint the narrative of the state of reality for most of us living in this wilderness. It would appear that we are all on our last breath, walking our last step, on our last test, knowing the grim reaper has our address. Just as he is about to exhale for the last time, he throws the no-look pass to Red Pill who resuscitates the track with one of his best verses delivered in some time. Cambatta seems to bring the best out of Red Pill and Blue Pill, and they do not disappoint. Red's flow gradually progresses for the first 4 bars, then goes into overdrive with a tantalizing barrage of wordplay, cadence, and delivery. He then throws it off of the backboard to Blue Pill for the slam dunk! Blue's heavy baritone flow is well calculated and thought out. He spends more time setting you up for his punchlines, than a straight-up attack. By the time you figure out that his lyrical narrative was a set-up, it's too late! His last four bars, ending with "Nipsey at the finish line, he waitin" will leave you on your last breath.
The ladies will love "Spellbound." It shows a more sensitive side to Cambatta's chaos. The fellas will love it as well because he brilliantly articulates the struggle of a warrior in search of love in a world that rarely loves us. Blackmagiks production rivals the lyrical vulnerability displayed on this track. This is about as open as Cambatta will get with his well- guarded emotions. What woman will not submit after the line" Your virginity was lost, now it's found." The overall energy on this sound speaks of love in the highest vibration. Bro Rich challenged Cambatta to come out of his comfort zone, and he did not disappoint.
"Yahawashi" is the most undefinable song on the album. It is part chant, part money ritual, part sermon. The flow is chaotic. The wordplay is unorthodox. The track is mystic in nature and has an ancient eastern flavor to it, but it works. The actual definition of the word varies from savior to deliverer and is Hebrew in nature. Well, make no mistake about it, Cambatta delivers again and again with a level of spiritual awareness that exudes lyrical powers that are only bestowed upon he who can command a track in such a fashion. His verses summon the ancestors whose presence can truly be felt with every line that he spits. Cambatta is a true grandmaster!
The track that moves my spirit the most is "King of the Jungle." I must've listened to this song 50 times during the first week. This song should have been on the Lion King soundtrack. If one song can speak to the plight of the original man and woman lost in the wilderness of North America, this is it! This song will pierce your soul with its undeniable reverence for our struggle as a people. And our attempts to return to our glory. This song should be celebrated. It is the Hip Hop version of "I believe I can fly." The production sets the tone with the opening chant that places you in a state of the motherland; then the keys bring out the warrior in you. Cambatta does the rest reminding all of us to remember that we are Gods!
Every song on this album hits real hard. It is well worth the price of admission, and then some. This well-crafted masterpiece delivers on all cylinders. The production is superb, and the lyricism is beyond this world. The alchemistry between Blackmagik363 and Cambatta is monumental.
I look forward to them completing the trilogy!
The Black Dot is the author or the underground classic Hip-Hop Decoded, and his new book, Urban Culture Decoded.