Album: Charles Workman
01 Dayz of Rot (prod. Madwreck)
02 Hawking’s Cortex (prod. Madwreck)
03 To Be In Love (prod. DJ K.O. & Madwreck)
04 Ms. Badu (prod. Darren Paul)
05 Victory (prod. Beatnick Dee)
06 Holy Mackerel (prod. Analogic)
07 Bacon (The Main Ingredient) (prod. Madwreck)
08 Frank Muller f. Jered Sanders (prod. SeeMore)
09 How We Do (prod. S. RAW)
10 Malcolm Browne (The BQE Remix) f. Skyzoo (prod. DaveNotti)
11 The Moon (prod. Madwreck)
‘These are the dayz of rot!‘, the words resonate as you begin listening to MadKem’s first album, Charles Workman. The track (Dayz Of Rot) has a tribal, yet funky feel to it. It starts of with what sounds like some tribal chant, then hit you off with some bongo drums, and then the finger snaps. The track has a feel unlike any other that I have heard in 2011. The use of vocal samples and a very organic production make this a track that you will remember. MadKem drops lyrics that put the listener on to what brought him into the rhyme game in the first place and where he is going with it. Everything about this track is exceptional. Madwreck definitely deserves props for his work behind the boards on this joint.
So there you have it, a superb intro to lead you into a very intricate, yet simple album. (I know there is some duality there) Lets take the album’s namesake, for starts. Charles Workman was a known killer for a group called Murder, Inc. in the early 1900s. Now if MadKem was on some La Cosa Nostra tip maybe this album title would be fitting, but alas he’s not. MadKem is the proud owner of superlative lyrical skills and not dumping bodies in bags…at least not in the true sense. What you do find, MadKem doing through out the album is weaving complex lyricism over somewhat stark rhythms, allowing his prowess as a wordsmith to show.
Case in point:
…and still wanna make duckets, Can I live? / I’m talking Dead Prezzies get a shovel do you dig? / Tryna take shit over, rap is like The Wiz / Group of people tryna to bite off another ni**as shit / Not like these new ball playas don’t need assists…
Holy Mackerel is MadKem spitting rapid fire bars over very understated Analogic production. It’s just some synth and drums but MadKem makes this song something special. You know beats can often carry an emcee, but in this case MadKem carries the production. He even does the hook for good measure. This song is just that lyrical heat where his play with words takes ‘clever’ to a new level.
How We Do is a smooth cut. MadKem rocks over a slick beat from S.Raw. There is some string bass, some horn, and the drums. The production is very tempered. The cut reminds of me of something that I would hear at a smokey jazz bar while sipping on some cognac. MadKem flips bars on how he lives in the day and the moment. Definitely something to vibe to.
Charles Workman was designed to let MadKem shine. At times he remains on the smooth tip (ie Frank Muller, How We Do It) and at other points he brings you a lyrical fore (ie The Dayz Of Rot, Holy Mackerel). The project really illustrates his skills and his ability to switch different styles almost effortlessly. It is also a very tight and cohesive project. It comes in at only eleven tracks and nothing seems out of place. There are times in the album where I wish the production had a little more kick and was perhaps a bit ‘heavier’. I’ve heard MadKem spit over some banging Elementality production before and thought some of that should have made it onto the album. But when it is all said and done, Charles Workman, is a project that as hip hop fans we should all become vested in. MadKem shows not only dope lyrical content but that charisma on the mic that keeps the listener engaged.