Published Oct 19, 2009Get It, the long-delayed debut from Toronto, ON mixtape veterans Empire, is a blast from the past, in the best possible way. In a hip-hop landscape increasingly dominated by ringtone music, Empire come through with an album full of hard-charging beats and menacing, hot-spitting, cipher-bred lyrics reminiscent of the East coast hardcore rap of the mid- to late '90s. Empire are at their best when they're combining violent threats and sex rhymes with almost ear-poppingly complex word puzzles over dark, hard beats on tracks like "Do the Math" and "S.A.R.S. ― Sick Artists Running Shit." All five members of Empire are first-class lyricists that could make an engaging rhyme out of the phone book, but the fact that they're not afraid to toss out some old-fashioned ignorance makes their style that much more entertaining. That said, they're not afraid to mix it up either; they take a break from the high-end wordplay and ass-kicking to slow things down and get introspective on the soul-infused "One Thing Wrong" and "Nowhere," a song about the frustration caused by love gone wrong. Get It is a way-above-average debut album with no real weak spots and a whole lot of verbal gymnastics.
There's a really good mix of hard-edged shit and, not softer, but more introspective material. Where does that balance come from?
Adam Bomb: When we started, we were just hungry, hungry guys. When you have hungry guys like that you're going to get a lot of aggressive verses, you're going to get those straight spitters. And when we did the album, we knew we had to come with that; for anyone who had our old tracks, we wanted to give them what they wanted. For new listeners who were wondering, "can these guys go in?" we wanted to show that we could, but that's not all we can do. We're not just rappers; we're artists. We can do things and show sides of ourselves that not everyone who can do that straight spitting does.
Is the more introspective stuff harder to write?
In a way, it comes easier. If you put me in a small box, I'll spit in that box, and it'll come real quick. If you give me a huge room to fuck around with, it'll take me forever to make music. Some of the other dudes though, when it comes to the straight spitters, they can do that in one sitting. They can just sit down in ten minutes and write something hot. That's for what I call "the tracks," for the other stuff, the songs are like life music. Both entertain people, it's just what do you want to listen to at that time? Because I like some old soul music, I like some life music, but then sometimes I just like some real ignorant-ass shit. (E1)