This is not your usual rap album, but then again Tairrie B. Murphy is not your usual artist; she’s a fifty-year-old feminist heavy metal screamer (of My Ruin fame) and she does things on her terms, period. So what’s a woman like this doing making a rap record? – Well, because she can! The thing is, back in 1990 she learnt her trade with the legendary Eazy-E, yes, THE Eazy-E from NWA – go see Straight Outta Compton, which (not so?) coincidentally was released the same day, and you’ll get it. So if you’re wondering if she can actually rap, put your fears aside because Tairrie B. possesses a flow many a younger rapper would kill for.
Opening track ‘Beware the Crone’ sets the tone for things to come; smooth well rhymed verses, the occasional well placed sample, some dark rhythms (courtesy of husband Mick Murphy on drums, bass and guitar!) and plenty of bruxaria. The overriding theme of the record is witchcraft, with Tairrie cast as coven leader in this West Coast Helloween (sic). However, this, for me at least – make up your own minds by downloading (or naming your price) on the link below – is the one thing which is a little OTT and makes it a little difficult to take some tracks seriously, notably ‘Wicked Witch of the West Coast’, which is best taken with tongue firmly in cheek.
That said however, Tairrie does approach the subject of witchcraft as a form of empowerment much more seriously on the highly credible ‘Down as Dirt’ and `Carpe Noctem´, which both work the theme well. Speaking of empowerment, when the subject matter is a bit closer to home, such as the role of women in the music industry, she really nails it – ‘Ad Nauseam’ standing out for its lyrical content and hard edge rapping – killer.
Equally killer are ‘Spirit Queen’, which successfully blends rap with her hard rocking side, and the genius sampling of ‘Grease is the Word’ on ´Sky Above, City Below´. Throw in the superb bitchin finale to ‘BTCHCRVFT’ and you’ve got some really stand out moments.
I think it’s fair to say that Tairrie B. more than holds her own on the rap front and has put together some highly listenable well worked tunes, with more than a touch of the old school. She proves that a well placed sample is an art form in itself and that there is a place for the dark side in hip-hop, although in my humble opinion a little less witch and a touch more bitch would really nail it; even so, worth a listen, check it out.