By Alex P80 Parks
Recognize Ali delivers his third full-length LP of 2018 with The Outlawed. Entrenched as a top-tier, elite underground emcee, Recognize Ali has transcended international borders on each of his grand-scale albums. Employing some of the best producers around, he’s been a consistent talent in this current HipHop renaissance. Poised to potentially release a 4th LP before the year is over, it’s safe to say Recognize Ali is prolific in his output.
Hailing from Ghana, Ali recruits some of HipHop’s best emcees from across the globe to pair with his own continental flow. Rec Ali has a tremendous ear for beats. His raspy vocals bring impending doom upon listeners. Not a bully on the mic, but there’s an ever-present intimidation in his voice and delivery. His rhymes tell you to take heed. In fact, back the fuck up! Rec Ali is one of those emcees that can spin street tales while providing new perspectives. You certainly won’t ever hear Recognize Ali utter a soft verse, even when he’s at his most vulnerable and introspective. His rhymes may be rugged and raw but the references and imagery show an intelligence beyond the trite cliches of rap.
Portraying himself as the villain or at the very least, the antihero, Rec Ali weaves tales of his criminal endeavors while stomping on wack-ass rappers. It’s his command and presence that’s felt through the mic and into our speakers, grabbing you by the throat and demanding your attention.
Recognize Ali hits us off with “Exuberant Breed” to start the album. It’s a desolate soundscape with organs, sharp guitar chords and an eerie background vocal. Ali’s rhymes are sharp, making it known that nobody is messing with the god. The first 4 tracks are all handled by Farma Beats to no one’s disappointment.
“Kamikaze” feat Estee Nack is exactly what you’d expect from these skilled emcees connecting. A standout banger, both cats come correct on the mic. Rec Ali does his damage while Nack completely spazzes on the track showing his insane rhyme schemes and intricate patterns yet again.
Ali ends his verse setting fire to the beat:
“Stacking the numbers bitch I’m Fibonacci
Having rice with spicy turkey in Fenerbahce.
Shit, I’m blowing up like Nagasaki
Watch me, just to witness the Kamikaze.”
“Shooter for hire” is the mysterious assassin track. Rec Ali talks of his lyrical prowess, globetrotting from safe-houses to various locales. Farma gives us some middle eastern flavor with his samples and percussion.
“Scarred Faces” feat Ty Farris and Waterr is yet another hard track from Farma. The horns blaring in the forefront and the light piano loop in the background provide the perfect canvas for the 3 gritty emcees to paint their lyrical street art. When this trio of emcees collaborate, they all seem to shine brightly.
“Bin Laden” produced by the UK’s Smellington Piff mixes a soulful vocal with some dusty drums and sufficient thump. Coming through as a feared mic terrorist, Recognize Ali brings a barrage of hard rhymes.
“Thousand Dollar Dons” feat Daniel Son and Asun Eastwood Farma Beats lays an elegant strings sample and vintage choral chops to provide an opulent sound. Perfect for Ali, Daniel Son and Asun Eastwood to describe the lavish life while still keeping it real. Each emcee delivers solid verses, dropping gems across the track. Farma continues to deliver stellar production on some of the year’s best albums.
“America’s Most Wanted” produced by B-Sun, this track shows Rec Ali flowing over chopped vocal samples, and punchy bass. Ali rhymes about how no one can come close to his level. Ali is a threat to other rappers, upholding a standard of consistently hard rhymes.
“Wave lords” feat Da Flyy Hooligan and Hus Kingpin produced by Ugly Face the track sports a blues guitar riff. Hooligan brings his fly, grimy elegance and Hus comes deft yet smooth. check it here:
“Want it all” produced by Clypto the track features a regal flute sample for Recognize Ali to articulate his desires and dreams, believing it’s possible through manifesting.
“The Jungle” feat Lukey Cage and DJ Grouch is another standout track. Maybe it’s the dope Prodigy vocal scratches by DJ Grouch or the ill piano loops that have this beat feeling like vintage Mobb Deep. Regardless, Big Ghost Ltd creates a truly sinister track while maintaining such simplicity on this heater.
“Like a referee I earn stripes,
You can play with this fire n***a, get burned twice
Bout half a key in the trunk on the turnpike
Fuckin pigs made a few gorillas turn mice.”
Check it here:
“When it’s on” The bleak and gloomy beat comes courtesy of the UK’s El Ay. Rec Ali slows his flow and begins his second verse:
“I done mastered the art of Tai Chi
This that baggy denim rap, fuck the tight Jeans.
I keep a 9 piece underneath the white tee.
Make sure do the right thing like Spike Lee.”
“The chase” feat and produced by El Ay is a modern day take on Bonnie and Clyde. El Ay provides a smooth and smoky jazz vibe for the 2 to trade verses about the getaway. El Ay blesses the track with her talents as a beat maker, skilled lyricist and a singer as well.
“Peruvian Flakes” feat Agallah produced by B-Sun shows Recognize Ali and the grizzled vet swapping stories of blazing through the streets, doing what has to be done to survive.
“Mug Shots” produced by Frank Grimes is a blaring solo trumpet with a sparse drum. A somber tone for Ali to spit some real shit over. check the video here:
“Monte Carlo” feat Vic Spencer produced by Ugly Face is perhaps the most ominous and tense with resonating strings and a booming snare and bass. Vic comes through and delivers another legendary verse, highlighted by his comical punchlines. They both provide this murky joint with brash attitude.
“Until that day” produced by Onaje Jordan is a unique sounding sample flip with several chops creating a reflective mood. Recognize Ali brings a strong track to close out the album, spitting about reigning supreme until that day comes when it’s all over.
The Outlawed plays out almost a like concept album, with Rec Ali assuming the lead role as the hired gun, fugitive on the run, in the safe-house, and also working his way throughout the mean streets throughout the album. His ear for beats remain a hallmark of his solid projects. Not resigned to just grimy and dark in tone, but the album as a whole maintains an element of tension in each of the beats. Recognize Ali’s rhymes are sharp, and full of creative punchlines and hard-edged imagery.
An excellent album from front to back, and a strong addition to Recognize Ali’s already stellar catalog, The Outlawed gives heads an entertaining and neck-snapping journey across the globe.
Pre-order the limited edition cassette here: