Local Wire

Emerg McVay

Emerg McVay's a one-man verbal blitzkrieg, a black Osama bin Laden piloting a lyrical 747 right into the core of your cranium. Preconceived notions? Kick 'em to the curb, yo. Especially if you think that P-town can't blow up like ATL, the Lou, and Chi-town before it. Just listen to Bionic Jive-ist McVay's solo CD Slave Music (Post 9/11 Lyricism), and you'll see why a "Phoenix sound" led by MC McVay's take-no-prisoners beats and imagery could do to mainstream rap what Timothy McVeigh's Ryder truck did to the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building.

From jump we know McVay ain't here to play. First there's the photo of him on the cover in a Klan outfit made from the American flag. Then the disc itself opens up with McVay's dark, operatic "Monster Zero," wherein he's "dripping with the enigma of a poet's bloodstain," sleeping "with genocide as a dream," and no doubt slouching toward Bethlehem to be born. McVay quickly establishes that "The Game Is Over" and advises his contemporaries to "Quit Playin'." Then he pops off two tracks written in gold and platinum, "Breathe Deep" and "Pay Homage." In the former, McVay spits, "Y'all beneath me like Jacques Cousteau/Buried in a casket seven fathoms deep in the Arctic snow." And in the latter, "McVay-em Alaikum" orders, "You should bow and pray five times a day, and heed the metaphors in the rhymes I got to say."

Damn, it may be the wrong religion, but can a brother get a witness? There's plenty of range in Slave Music, from the pimp flows and Shaft-like theme of "Cryogenics" and the first-person, Roots-inspired inner monologue of the title track, to the stark, urban fables of "In the Sec's Before" and the raucous hard-rock/rap anthem "Phoenix Theme." But what reigns over it all is the imaginative depth and lyrical inventiveness of McVay himself, and that's enough to put Phoenix on the rap map, nephew. Fo sho.