C-Rayz Walz

We Live: The Black Samurai [EP]

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It's the stormy yin-yang inside of C-Rayz Walz that makes him so great. He's one-half bravado thug, one-half concerned parent. All of the conflicts that go with that combo come out loud and clear on his recordings, and he's always pushing to be a better person. To add to all this, he's value-conscious and releases EPs that are 40 minutes long. Calling it an EP keeps We Live: The Black Samurai from being considered the official follow-up to his great Ravipops full-length. Perhaps it's because We Live doesn't have the cohesion Ravipops did, the jump from the 2Pac-ish "Single Mothers" to the thug love "Amore" being the best example of the record's choppiness. They're both top-notch tunes, "Amore" especially with its stick-in-yer-head "She loves me/She loves me not/She loves me on the block with rocks in my socks" chorus. The great "We Live" offers a vivid picture of a hood where the "ambulances take too long" and the playful "Trudeau" cheekily borrows McDonald's "I'm lovin' it!" jingle. It's easy to see why Walz needed to get these fantastic tracks out, even if they didn't fit together perfectly. Putting "EP" on the cover keeps the collection from being over-judged, but hopefully won't keep it from being overlooked.

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