Lukey Cage – Powerman: Hero For Hire (self-released)

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First off – you can forget about hating on me for my lack of hip-hop knowledge compared to some, I’m reviewing this album because of computer game politics. I’ll give you some back story, which may make sense in context with the artist.

There’s this fucked up RPG game on Xbox 360 called Dark Souls. When you die, you risk losing all the shit you worked so hard to get. You stress out hard on this, no shit. I couldn’t beat the Taurus Demon in Dark Souls, so I had to get my friend to finish the demon off. I’d been playing this fucking game for four hours and there was eleven humanities and 10K+ souls in the mix, so I was on edge.

I was told I could have an extra hand with the demon if I reviewed Lukey Cage’s new album immediately. My “friend” then finished the so-called demon in five minutes, and I was put into writer’s debt. So here we are, I’m back in the music review game after nearly half a year, here with Lukey Cage’s new joint.

Okay, let’s get down to business.

Lukey Cage hails from Atlanta (Georgia), and can be related in collaboration to hip-hop contemporaries like Noemotion Goldmask and Niggavengers. He’s deeply entrenched in comic book culture, which influences his whole sound. To top this, he’s released a whole bunch of albums and collaborations that never (but perhaps should have) emerged into popular hip-hop terrain, ones with references ranging from popular culture to porn, and ones sampling such shows as Adventure Time as an entire theme in album @Izreal vol 2. Adventure Time Rhymes under his alias of Iz Real.

From the self-titled start track ‘Luke Cage’ where he flips rhymes referring to soccer, Wu Tang and gunplay, I can tell I’ve gotten myself in deep reviewing this one. His lyrics are dense and full of gems that you can keep coming back to time and time again to find new bits and pieces you haven’t heard before.

The first couple of things for me with this guy is that Lukey is heavily influenced – and in many ways equal to – top cats like MF Doom and Kool Keith, except Lukey Cage is very open about these influences. Some people may disagree, but I think it’s perfectly appropriate for artists to update tried and tested formula that is pioneered by original hip-hop MCs and production. It could be said that it’s impossible to deviate from original hip-hop formula of boom-bap and straight spitting. Perhaps it’s time for MCs to stop worrying about whether they sound like someone else, and rather focus on doing what they do well and be proud of their influences.

The beats on Powerman: Hero For Hire are produced by Agonist, drk Gyvr, Brock Landers and Melbourne’s own Aoi. They’re 90s-driven boom-bap licks done with style and integrity. Lukey Cage comes in strong and perfectly matched in tracks like Aoi-produced ‘Captain Powerman’, with repititious references to comic book heros, and shows that he is an underestimated and unmeasured quantity in terms of lyrical strength for poise, elegance and intelligence.

Any prolonged listen to Powerman: Hero For Hire will show a polished artist who is quietly and prolifically producing quality hip-hop on the underground, whilst the mainstream is preoccupied with the trap phenonemon. Is trap actually relevant in context to the original concept of hip-hop?

In summary, Powerman: Hero For Hire is a fine example and update that Lukey Cage consistantly shows original, clever and creative hip-hop still doing its thing, if you know where to dig.

Lukey Cage’s Powerman: Hero For Hire is available free for download.

Written By Kristian Hatton.

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