Chief Kamachi

The Clock of Destiny

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A veteran of the Philly underground scene, Chief Kamachi first surfaced in the late 1990s, releasing a handful of singles in collaboration with A.G., the Last Emperor, and DJ Revolution. After Vinnie Paz welcomed him into the ranks of his Army of the Pharaohs supergroup (in its first incarnation), Kamachi came into his own, adopting a lyrical style -- much like that introduced by Wu-Tang affiliates Killah Priest and Sunz of Man -- that dealt in mystical imagery, a sort of ghetto pseudo-Gnosticism, which he's used ever since. His third solo LP, The Clock of Destiny, is drenched in such imagery. In his world, Chief Kamachi lives in the city of Philadelphus, where he studies the rituals of something called "Kamalah" (which is also his alias at times) and fancies himself "the section-eight Egyptian." Fascinated by astrology, "white Wicca," "West African magic," and the more morbid aspects of Christian scriptures, Kamachi blends it all together with more conventional battle MC boasting. Unlike Killah Priest though, Kamachi is able to hold himself back from total lyrical unintelligibility even if he does spit his fair share of eyebrow-raisers; he has no qualms, for instance, in calling himself "half Jesus, half Richard Pryor." Still, Kamachi's approach works well when his mysticism is presented in the context of contemporary ghetto life. Not unlike Jim Jarmusch's Ghost Dog, Kamachi portrays himself as one who exists in today's world but lives according to anachronistic, and often contradictory, beliefs -- a "mystical jewel-wearer" who "meditates in back of a pool hall." Similarly, the most compelling moments on the Clock of Destiny come when the Philly MC turns his eye to the struggles of his fellow inner-city residents -- detailing the world's harsh realities to a newborn on "Steel Umbrella," for example. The record's highlight is the uplifting "Little African Girl," a companion song to one of the standout tracks from his previous album, "Little African Boy."

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