Body of the Life Force

Having first come to the attention on Jeru the Damaja's "Mental Stamina," back in 1994, Afu-Ra's solo debut has been a long time coming. After knocking out a couple of singles for Gee Street before RZA's Bobby Digital project allegedly sunk the label, the project has finally surfaced promisingly under the auspices of Gang Starr DJ/producer DJ Premier. Despite the lengthy time lapse, Afu-Ra's stop and start delivery, with its heady scientific and sermonic lyrical content, remains and several guests show up and genuinely add contrast. Along with Wu-Tang representation from GZA and Masta Killa, the Cocoa Brovaz turn up on the buoyant "D&D Soundclash" riddim and Ky-Mani Marley makes a strong vocal appearance on "Equality." Despite the support and the earnest abstract lyricism filled with jewels of wisdom, Afu-Ra's delivery and approach doesn't change enough to keep consistent interest, and DJ Premier accordingly lends some valuable assists. "Monotony" is anything but, as Afu-Ra lays down autobiographical notes against a swirling Primo soundscape, and other entries like the previously released "Defeat" and "Whirlwind Through Cities" are definite highlights. But despite the strong production and insightful lyricism, Body of the Life Force is missing the ingredient to authoritatively take it to the next level. (Koch)