Afu-Ra: ‘Body Of The Life Force’

'Body Of The Life Force' should install Afu-Ra in the pantheon of nice MCs in the classic tradition...

It’s funny, or maybe sad, but some MCs just seem destined to remain on the periphery. No matter how nice lyrically, no matter how varied and skilful the flow, no matter how respectable their choice of collaborators, some assemblage of natural forces has conspired to shroud them in perpetual obscurity. [a]Afu-Ra[/a] is perhaps the foremost among these, the best-known of the overlooked (actually far better-known in London than in his hometown New York).

‘Body Of The Life Force’ is the album that, all things being equal, should install [a]Afu-Ra[/a] in the pantheon of nice MCs in the classic tradition – among the Pharoahe Monchs and the Masta Aces. After all, it features the always impeccable production of DJ Premier on five tracks, plus excellent contributions from Da Beatminerz, True Master and DJ Muggs, as well as mic collaborations with GZA and the Cocoa Brovas (on the album’s high-point ‘D&D Soundclash’, where a sweet Barrington Levy hook floats above a gargantuan Evil Dee b-line) – and most of all, it showcases Afu‘s undeniable abilities at the mic.

Yet Afu‘s struggle still seems to be an uphill one. This album should have been released last year on Gee St, but was ensnared in that label’s demise. However, that delay may yet work in [a]Afu-Ra[/a]’s favour, as 1999’s trend for simplistic rhymes and pop beats seems to be waning, perhaps leaving room for a traditional hip-hop album like ‘Body Of The Life Force’ to shine.

Fingers crossed: Afu deserves a break, and his day just might have arrived.

Eddie Brannon