Sonic Jihad ****

By Bradley Miller,

Cue the air raid siren. The Black Panther of rap is back. After laying low since the release of his less than well-received stab at G-Funk (1998's Unleashed), Paris has returned with a controversial, politically-charged full-length that parallels his classic The Devil Made Me Do It (Tommy Boy, 1990) and Sleeping With The Enemy (Scarface, 1992) albums. Sonic Jihad borrows equally from each of those LP's and finds Paris echoing the pro-Black sentiments of his debut and rehashing the anti-President, police and government views that dominated his sophomore effort. Incensed with the aftermath of September 11th and the subsequent ‘War On Terror’, Paris doesn't shy away from his feelings. The CD's cover art eerily depicts a large passenger plane flying towards the White House and the liner notes make references to the "whitewashing media machine" and "fake U.S. patriotism" generated by the terror attacks.

The disc opens with a collage of sound bites before "Field Nigga Boogie”, a track that Paris fans of old will rejoice in hearing – it marks "the return of the Bush Killa" and an auditory throwback to the Paris of old, in terms of production and delivery. In fact, if you compare the beats on Sleeping With The Enemy to Sonic Jihad, the differences are negligible. Some might view this as a negative, but to Paris’ credit, it shows he won't compromise his sound or views to appease critics or follow current trends. Dancehall star Capleton provides the hook on the downbeat "Spilt Milk" while fellow political rappers Dead Prez guest on the first of their two contributions, "Tear Shit Up”, where sentiments like "to protect, they servin’ us with sticks and shots/but who protects us from these murderous cops?" are expressed. "Ain't No Love" (featuring Kam) sets off a string of mellower songs, where Paris’ subdued delivery allows his conscious, proactive lyrics to be more easily appreciated and digested. He's back to spitting venom on "You Know My Name”, taking shots at popular rappers with lines like "while niggas’ Civil Rights dwindle/Cristal is what they’re into”, and "AWOL" is a well-written anti-war statement. The album's first single, "What Would You Do?" kicks off the trio of stellar songs that close the disc, including the Dead Prez and Chuck D-assisted "Freedom (The Last Cell Remix)”.

Sonic Jihad is a topical, relevant and controversial album, and Paris comes across as the militant rapping version of Michael Moore. Intent on expressing his take on the "propaganda matrix" engulfing the US, Paris pulls no punches and wears his heart on his sleeve. Unsurprisingly, he released the CD independently but has secured distribution through Groove Attack, so you should be able to track it down.

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