ECHO LEADER 12"
First time I heard Last Emp, believe it or not, was on Lubbock radio...the late KTXT to be exact. It was about 10:45 on a Thursday night and I just finished playing a softball game and was making my way home. Thursday night was hip hop night on KTXT and Wil was telling me that I needed to tune in. So, on my drive home, I turned it over to KTXT and the very first thing I heard was "Rap Tyranny" splitting the silence. In many ways, from the very first line, it split much of the monotony I had been dealing with. Back in 1999, Rawkus was reaching veteran status and, although we didn't yet know it, was soon to dim. Everyone was stretching to achieve that realness, that cred. Everyone wanted to be around at the beginning. Everyone wanted to be down with the surging independent scene and it was a rat race for heads to pronounce themselves to be more underground than the next. In many ways, I was the same way.
But "Rap Tyranny" obliterated all of that. It was perfection in a hip hop track and from the first time I heard it, I was reminded that one's perception of me meant much less than just listening to what I liked. And liking what I like. I didn't need anyone's validation by saying, "Yes, you're correct. That's good." I know what I like and I know what I don't like. I don't need a magazine to tell me what's good. I don't need MTV. I don't need writers. I don't need that mixtape friend. I don't need radio. I don't need iTunes. I don't need Hip Hop Connection. It just took a chance moment on a KTXT broadcast and I said, "Yep, that's it."
"Rap Tyranny" is a ferocious sub-three minute party jam that shakes its ass harder than almost anything out there. Two verses and one chorus is all it takes for Philly's finest, Last Emperor, to slay heads.
"Subjects and predicates / Proper mic etiquette / All beef, I'm deadin' it / Hip-Hop confederate Face me, you better get / High priest and Jesuits / Against the Emp your attempts will seem effortless / I make the girls wanna kick their heels up / Klingon warships throw their shields up / Rippin' the reels up Wounds never heal up / Mad Soul controls the razor-sharp steel cuts."
Add to it the Commodores' "Assembly Line" break and what you have is an resurrective and downright anthemic b-boy classic. While Last Emp would fade in the post-2000 hip hop landscape, "Rap Tyranny" is as sturdy as hip hop songs come and will, undoubtedly, withstand the test of time. And this thing was a freaking b-side! They just don't make 'em like they used to...back in 1999. Oh, those were the days.
And as good as "Rap Tyranny" is, it's still only #28 on this list. Just wait, kiddies.