ILLECT Recordings (June 21, 2011)
Review by Undercover
Prince with a Thousand Enemies is an album that is destined to be under-appreciated. Sintax the Terrific, well known for his role in Deepspace5 and many collaborations, has joined with DJ Kurfu to produce a thoughtful masterpiece.
To appreciate the album fully, you must realize that it is inspired by “Watership Down,” and it is recommended that you read the book alongside the music. “Watership Down” is a children’s book about rabbits who believe they are blessed to live next to a farm, but soon realize that their home is a rabbit farm. After discovering the truth, they set out to establish a new home at a place called “Watership Down.” The album, like the book, explores themes of spirituality, belief, politics, comfort, and survival. Thankfully the liner notes include some explanation for each song and some of the phrases used. For example, the track Hard Going includes the bridge, “Lord God bless your servant El-ahrairah we will not fail,” and the notes explain that,
“El-ahrairah” is “the legendary rabbit folk hero. The name (Elil-Hrair-Rah) means “Enemies-Thousands-Prince” = The Prince with a Thousand Enemies.”
There’s a lot of depth here, but it requires a bit of homework.
All that depth is great, but do Sintax and Kurfu deliver? Lyrics are sharp, witty, poetic, and real. Beats fit almost perfectly with the content and offer that “head nod” quality that keeps you tuned in for the whole track. Overall this is a solid product and will please Deepspace5 fans very much.
The content, although foreign at first, stays interesting and hits relevant spiritual and physical topics. It’s hard to pick knockout tracks as the album kind of runs together, which is kind of a good thing in this case. Sintax is solid in his rhymes throughout, and Kurfu’s beats are full of emotion. A Watership Beat Down starts it off right with mellow piano and horns, then in comes the slow kick, kick, snare followed by Sintax: “I feel death in the wind, fear in the warren like the breath of the Reaper waking up in the morning…” Many points of this album are very serious, but there are also some fun points. Pimp My Hrududu just kind of sticks in your head, and you’ll find yourself humming, “Hrududu and the ride is nice y’all.”
The next to last track on the album, The Outskirters stands out both musically and topically, and doesn’t quite fit with the rest of the tracks. It has a weird mix of horns, off-tempo drums, and other odd noises thrown in that sound a bit awkward. The topic is “Who is your neighbor?” Sintax claims “It’s not an immigration song,” but it sure seems like it is. While this track may be the low point of the album, it does have some serious raps to be enjoyed.
This is a quintessential “thinker’s” album, made for headphones accompanied by a book and a pen. Like a true poet, Sintax does a great job of taking themes from fantasy and bringing them right back to reality. With so much depth, this album could definitely be enjoyable for months, or as long as it takes you to read “Watership Down.”
[Writer’s Confession] I did not have time to re-read the book. I only have dim memories to go off of, in which I mostly remember a scary tractor. I am looking forward to picking it up from the library soon, and will check back in with some comments.
For fans of: Deepspace5, Mars Ill, Beat Rabbi, Watership Down by Richard Adams
Preview Prince With A Thousand Enemies: