By Alex P80 Parks
In his deep, gravelly voice, the swashbuckling emcee greets listeners to his latest body of work with a smooth “ahoy.” On Black Cesar, Knowledge The Pirate drops jewels straight out the treasure chest and onto some carefully selected beats. All buccaneer metaphors aside, Knowledge brings a level of detailed-craftsmanship on this, his sophomore album. The Pirate has built a dedicated following through strong independent promotion from his own team. Knowledge delivers a solid, cohesive album showing growth and maturity from his 2018 debut Flintlock. On Black Cesar The Pirate returns with more vivid storytelling and an even sharper selection of beats to rhyme over, courtesy of Elemnt, Roc Marci and Don Cee. The beats utilize a solid formula of vintage sounds combining soulful loops, elegant textures and plenty of hard-hitting drums.
Blaxploitation and 70’s pimp themes remain prevalent since Flintlock, but Knowledge adds the mythos of the historic 1800’s Pirate, Black Cesar to those layered themes. Conceptually, he pulls it all together on Black Cesar, giving listeners a multi-faceted project.
The album opens with “Science Born.” Frequent collaborator Elemnt juxtaposes elegant piano loops with Knowledge’s rugged bars while he and his crew prepare for a midnight mission. The video shows him clad in all-black, strutting through the dark NY scenes.
Check the video here:
The fluttering horns of “Mafia codes” create the perfect NYC Italian cafe scene for The Pirate to craft a narrative of crime, gambling, drugs and guns. “Lick a shot” features chopped loops of piano slides and an Egyptian sounding organ sample. Knowledge raps of designer brands, riding fast, shots firing from the foreign whip while the women hang on for the adventure. It’s tracks like these that display the typical Knowledge style of luxury raps mixed with a street edge. On “Shots Fired,” Roc Marci lends his rhymes to the Don Cee produced track which sports a playful vocal sample, echoing effects and booming drums. Roc goes first, coming with his seemingly effortless flow and lucid imagery with lines like “Specs of blood on the funk flex Lugz…” Knowledge follows with 2 verses of detailed and engaging storytelling of an undercover agent amidst wild shootouts.
Elemnt and Knowledge combine on”Making My Mark,” full of pulsating bass and snare. Knowledge describes tending to his lady’s whims, ensuring that she lives comfortably. With “Table Manners” Knowledge creeps over a rising horn and lingering bells as he outlines the unwritten rules of the syndicate amidst his rhymes of success and wealth. Elemnt lays a standout beat on “Time has Come” with a soulful loop, harmonizing vocals and horns as Knowledge provides strong visual depictions with rhymes like:
“Sprawling beaches, Rolling waves,
Stripping out ya Armani bathing suit, Ready to misbehave
In Santorini Greece, at the Amari Bay, taking off ya Versace shades
Havin a long gaze at the Aegean Sea,
Where else would you wanna be?”
“Gold Buillion” is the caper joint of the album. Elemnt brings a climbing strings loop to create just enough stirring action. Another standout beat on an album with solid production throughout.
“Darko” is a definite gem, where producer Roc Marci blends the atmosphere of the strings loops and some dope effects to build just enough tension every few bars. Compressed and echoing drums complete the soundscape for Knowledge to discuss how he deals with the issues at hand. Roc Marci the producer has taken it to another level with an intended tone of mysticism in beats like this. Knowledge spits in pocket:
“Cannons on deck, Man of respect
Lights camera action, Quiet on the set
Ni**a yeah, the pirates on the set
My life’s a movie, I’m just scribing the script.”
“She gone away” is a soulful ballad, about accepting being left by a badass woman. The 70’s soul/blaxploitation vibe is in full effect, as Knowledge describes the intense moments with that woman. With tracks like “Sad to say” and “Honor Among Us” Elemnt lays down chopped samples full of short melodies that he strings together stretching out the effect. Elemnt places some delicate harp notes and a lush arrangement of stings on “Earn the bag,” providing a feel of opulence and luxury. The slight jazzy trumpet adds to the vibe as The Pirate details enjoying all of the finer things in life with his lady. Producing the bulk of the album, Elemnt has certainly found his lane with the sounds he’s created on both of Knowledge’s projects, along with his solid beats for other artists.
Rap fans often want to hear of the materialistic luxury in lyrics. They live them vicariously through the emcees, while seeking a delicate balance with some grounding in reality. Knowledge upholds that balance, provided that fans suspend their disbelief of his creatively striking narratives. Knowledge speaks with a realness beyond the truth (or fabrication) of his lyrics. The elevated storytelling on this project shows more depth to his lyricism. He has patented a style of lavish and extravagant topics without reaching too far beyond reality, and more importantly, without ever sacrificing street credibility. The album is a solid body of work, cohesive through the concepts and whispers of vintage sounds in production throughout the project.
The album is available to stream everywhere, including iTunes here:
and to purchase here: