By Trey Stancher
The new EP from San Bernardino-based emcee Sully boasts an appropriate guest list, especially for such a considerably-short record. Enlisting the likes of hiphop legends KRS-ONE and Ras Kass, Sully has crafted and put together a pretty good album that harks back to some of the greatest records of the past, but still manages to sound fresh.
I have to say, to be completely honest, I actually prefer this kind of hiphop. I like the new shit, because hiphop is a living organism and like all progressive living organisms it evolves and adapts to the changing landscape. So, to sound both old and new at the same time is a very difficult task to pull off. The record is short, but as a matter of concept instead of necessity, as it carries a theme laid out by the title itself: Seven Deadly Sins.
The first track “Pride” is one of my favorites on the record. Sully owns the entire tack, one of three tracks which don’t feature any guest appearances. It reminds me of Dilated Peoples at their peak, with the booming classical tinge and thick bass kicks that are good enough to remind me how far Xzibit has fallen off. Sully looks like he’s committed to making fools out of a lot of emcees, past and present.
Ras Kass appears on two tracks, the first of which is “Greed”. The production is top notch (as is the rest of the record), and feels like a driving track… like, something you would drive to. Though, it definitely drives the record forward with a high energy and a consistent flow that make it sound like Sully is a seasoned professional.
He’s also a conscious rapper, which itself is a dying concern in the rap industry, so on tracks like “Sloth” and “Anger (Wrath)” he dips into political discourse. On “Sloth” he laments the laziness that pervades the society as a whole; wherein people complain about the state of the world but choose to do nothing and sit idle due to intellectual laziness and the fear of trying. On “Anger (Wrath)” he brings in 2Mex and the immortal KRS-ONE, who has made his name on brushing against the grain for almost 30 consecutive years.
Sully told me he approached KRS himself, almost “cold calling” him with the hope that The Teacher would participate. Initially, he contacted Vinnie Paz of Jedi Mind Tricks only to discover that Vinnie was on tour. He was contacted by Los Angeles-based underground rapper Deeskee, who told him he was with KRS in Las Vegas right then. Sully took the initiative and got KRS on the phone, sent the beat over, and asked that KRS contribute 16 bars. Instead, Sully received 32 bars. He wasn’t with him when he recorded his verse but insisted it was more than he could ever ask for. I met him myself years ago at an event in Hollywood where he spoke about the state of hiphop. Sully told me, “You don’t talk much when you’re talking to the Teacha, you sit back & listen as the pupil!” I can back this up; the reputation of legends precedes them, and whether or not you agree with KRS’ politics you should nonetheless listen. At first, I thought “Anger (Wrath)” was a little bit too long at 7 minutes, but when KRS came on about halfway through I realized that, yeah… that length is justified.
“Lust” is another great track, featuring another San Bernardino-based emcee, Dirty Birdy, along with preeminent “Xicano” emcee Xololanxinxo. The reminiscent guitar-picking and flow of both rappers remind me of another great underground rapper and former KRS cohort Last Emperor. Toward the end of the record he brings in local legend AWOL One for a chilled out quasi-reggae track before closing it all out with the luscious “Envy,” which cruises its way to a justified conclusion to a great EP.
A host of great appearances, while much appreciated, can only distract the listener from the talent of the marquee emcee. It’s with this in mind that, from Pride to Envy, Sully begins and ends Seven Deadly Sins all on his own. It’s nice to see a good rapper with a sense of history and foresight come right out of my own backyard and deliver something as solid as this record.
You can visit him at his website Sully Muzik, or you can purchase Seven Deadly Sins (or any of the singles) directly from Amazon via the links below.