SOS, ring the alarm, shine the bat signal! Hip hop needs a hero and two men are rising to the occasion. Ditching their mundane existence for the extraordinary as the Purple Assassin and the Scratchman, rap legend Chali 2na (of Jurassic 5, Ozomatli) and turntable thriller DJ Krafty Kuts team together to birth Adventures Of A Reluctant Superhero: a 15-track concept album off Manphibian Music, available everywhere as of yesterday. The duo has intersected each other at over 150 live performances since the initial tease of the album “Hands High” hit digital outlets back in 2017. Fast forward two years and that inaugural single is ironically placed at the footer of the album, with a track named “Endtro” leading listeners in at the head of the LP. 2na and Kuts execute a myriad of superpowers throughout the body of work; in this instance, supernatural wit.
Adventures Of A Reluctant Superhero starts off with an old-school hip hop style introduction, scratchy like being played back on vinyl. It’s a “story of a boy to a man” — how the ‘Verbal Herman Munster’ got here. 2na’s deep, booming, bassy voice balances against Kuts’ sopranic melodies, letting the listener know he’s been around long before the “president had a tan and a fake toupé”… and he’s not going anywhere any time soon. It’s time to save the city of Hip Hop from utter destruction. Let the subjective reality begin.
Hip hop needs a hero and two men are rising to the occasion.
The album’s premiere single follows as track two, “Guard The Fort”, featuring Lyrics Born and Gift Of Gab. The track bursts onto the ear unapologetically, like the Kool-Aid Man through a brick wall, as 2na’s “calm demeanor, even when under attack” clashes with Kuts’ forceful instrumentals. The single, released back in March at the BBC 6 Music Festival, gave fans a taste of 2na’s impending transformation; he’s changing from ‘Munster’ to “Monster” for the sake of saving the rap game. Through “quest” and “calvary” over electric violin, 2na chants how he has to protect the homeland from further damage. Hip hop has morphed into “tasteless ignorance”, where “nothing sounds genuine”. Rappers today fumble through “mumblin’ and mimickin'”, lacking in skill and precision. Good thing 2na preaches longevity, having the capacity to “be here forever, while [Top 40 rappers] fade away as time passes”. His confident claims are backed by Kuts fusing together funky sounds of yesteryear with 2na’s nostalgic Jurassic 5 vibe, cementing that hip hop, at its core, is timeless — tried and tested, cool and calculated like any other science.
Just don’t make the Verbal Herman Munster mad. The track “Bruce 2na” details how the alter ego comes alive, taking 2na from by-standing citizen to superhero in action. Like most of the LP, a dialogue precludes the track, a child stating “you won’t like me when I’m angry” to a man poking his nose in the child’s business. Why can’t people just keep to themselves? Emotions over-boil in this track, transforming 2na into The Hulk of Hip Hop: eyes dilating, muscles swelling as his “skin turns green”. With lyrics like “I talk like a veteran and walk like your stepson”, 2na nonchalantly exposes his outcast stature — he just can’t fit in anywhere. Superheroes are known for their solo status, introverted and misunderstood as they hide their true identity from others. All of these elements encompass the second single off the LP, “Distance”. With the world full of “hypocrites and back biters”, protect yourself by keeping others at a distance. Why should this dejected superhero help the doomed and the “deceptive”? When you can’t trust your own country’s leadership, mass media or your best friend, might as well turn into a total recluse. Movie quotes over the bridge suggest that the notion to right the world’s wrongs used to be okay… an acceptable notion that somehow got lost in translation.
Good thing “Superheroes Anonymous” is waiting to welcome newcomers off the scary streets. 2na and Kuts interject between friends (like Dynamite MC, Jake and others) to a track centered around hero therapy, a play off of Alcoholics Anonymous led by a crimefighting “sponsor mediator”. That’s right, even superheroes need support when the weight of the world is too much to bear. Brilliant. Care to comment? The communal track segues into “South Coast Rocks”, an homage to 90s hip hop: nostalgic turntable scratching set to a classic piano contrast and flute flutters. Maybe saving the world is too big of a job for one or two mere mortals. 2na and Kuts ingeniously employs a different kind of call to action next — a commercial to save the world yourself. Choice is yours how you’re going to use your “Superhero Kit”, for good or for evil.
“What people need is a role model” and 2na is up for the challenge… reluctant or not.
Speaking of villainy, everyone has a dark side. 2na expresses his disgust for the “fog” and “smog” of the world in “Black Vapor”. His “sense of humor’s in a coma” and needs the general public to step up. “Feel The Power” boosts this motif, asking listeners to believe they can make a difference in their everyday life without a hero leading the way. We’ve “entered the age of likes and selfies”, deluded by overmedication and egocentrism. You can’t help someone who doesn’t help themselves, so it’s dire time to “feel the power in your soul”. Do it for the future generations. While you’re at it, take time to smell the roses with messages embedded in “Waste No Time”. Every person has something “Worth Fighting For” and, for 2na, he thanks the “empress” of his life who has stood by his side while he’s been out “fighting crime with rhyme”. “Stay Tuned” has a dark trumpet crooning over muted keys. “What people need is a role model” and 2na is up for the challenge… reluctant or not. Thus, he’s transforming his career into one of mission and motive. Stay true of self, stay true to love, “remain dramaless” and generate a cycle of positivity, aka the basis of the track “Heartbroken”. The album ends with “Skillz” and “Hands High”: the former centering around 2na’s superhuman ability for speed and agility in hip hop, the latter celebrating while we have the chance. Both songs feature funky backbones, heralding hip hop from the proverbial ashes, right when you think it’s dead for good. Chali 2na and Krafty Kuts clearly will not let that happen.
Adventures Of A Reluctant Superhero is now out on all major outlets. Grab your copy via the links below and catch the duo in action live now through August 25th.
Purchase or stream Adventures Of A Reluctant Superhero album:
- Guard The Fort, feat. Lyrics Born & Gift Of Gab
- Bruce 2na
- Superheroes Anonymous, feat. Jake, Ang 13, Dynamite, MC Spyce, Harry Shotta, Jake The Detonator
- South Coast Rocks
- Superhero Kit
- Black Vapor
- Feel The Power, feat. Skye
- Worth Fighting For, feat. Omar
- Waste No Time, feat. Dynamite MC
- Stay Tuned
- Heartbroken, feat. Skye
- Skillz, feat. Joe Charman
- Hands High
Disclaimer: All views presented in this album review are those of the reviewer and not necessarily those of Top Shelf Music.