by Dan O
Knowledge The Pirate sounds DIFFERENT. Lot of rappers are flashing money, sitting in exotic chairs on album covers and sounding like Griselda. You got to think about this lane in rap like vampire movies. Knowledge The Pirate is of pure lineage. While a lot of cats are copying a copy Knowledge The Pirate was talking this talk in 2012 on Roc Marciano’s classic album Reloaded(the song Not Told with Ka). From 2018’s Flintlock on it has been a journey to the full spacious use of negative sonic space. While some rappers sound like they are doing Conway or Benny, Knowledge The Pirate sounds like an artist born from a chemists mix of Roc and Ka. This new album showcases all those powers.
Big Ghost Ltd really performs on this album. The elements of these 12 beats are kinetic. I’m thinking of the strings on Pull Up, the drums on Wolves Eat, loops that never linger but instead wind tightly. The immediacy pushes our narrator to a fuller form of expression. In the long career of Big Ghost Ltd this project is probably my favorite expression of his percussive intelligence. Listen to the slinky slapping congas on Devotion , the ferocious hi hats on The Tombs. It’s not the excitement of hearing drums as a primary instrument again(MIGHTYCANNONS already gave me drums!) but how much variation you can bring to them with full focus. While remaining mid-tempo Big Ghost Ltd grows as an artist on Wolves Don’t Eat with Shepherds without any pressure to do so.
One move on here brings out the next level chess master game-planning involved. Most people that grab a feature from Flee Lord throw him on their most rambunctious song feeding on that “LORD! LORD!” energy. Placing the Far Rockaway spitter on a song as slick and confident as Bad Boys is remarkable, you can hear the challenge accepted and risen to in one of my favorite Flee Lord guest verses in a long time. Every step on this path is calculated.
Knowledge The Pirate is so good. From a rhyme pattern perspective, he’s elegant at pausing before the punchline and delivering it as enthusiastically as it earns. Just when you catch the flow of his movement…the speed changes fitting words in that shouldn’t! For evidence of this listen to the first two minutes of the closing song (Sweetwater) where his patterns move like Sugar Ray Leonard finding distance from Marvin Hagler. All the while he talks about the life in all its lush exotic color never disconnecting the pure viciousness it takes to survive in it. The flyness of Roc and the weight of Ka woven together in one of the most interesting rap artists on the East Coast. Wolves Don’t Eat with Shepherds is a lot better than important albums the world is fawning over.
Wolves Don’t Eat with Shepherds is on streaming now.