One of my New Year’s resolutions is to make my bachelor pad more decorative. Ladies love a man whose idea of interior design isn’t neon beer signs and posters of booty models. I’ve succeeded so far only because the New Year’s Eve party decorations are still hanging. My next venture is getting new coasters for the coffee table, because I’m currently using an assortment of cardboard coasters I’ve pocketed on trips to the bars. But to hell with IKEA: I’m buying used copies of lackluster albums off Amazon and using them as coasters. Blood Money and Dr. Dre Presents: The Aftermath are going for a penny, so I can afford a whole set with the dime I found under the goose down-filled cushions of my sofa.
Selling My Soul, Masta Killa’s new album, is too low-key to garner consideration for my coffee table collection, but any album that has an opening skit AND an intro is just asking to have a Dos Equis placed on it. The “soul” referenced in the title comes from Masta Killa wanting to make his own attempt at a Little Brother album and enlisting 9th Wonder to help him do it. 9th appears only once, “Food”, with what is presumably a leftover beat from the Minstrel Show recordings. “Intro” and “Part 2” (yes, the intro got a sequel) basically beat-jack the Little Brother classic “Not Enough”. The thievery doesn’t end there, as “R U Listening” is the exact same beat as “Crack Spot Stories” from the Wu-Block album. Fittingly, it’s the best track on the album because it’s the only time when Masta Killa actually sounds completely comfortable on the beat.
Masta Killa ditches the soul sound on “Cali Sun”, which sounds like what an East Coaster thinks West Coast music sounds like. Picture Masta Killa in the booth with a checklist, “Let’s see, I’ve mentioned Bay Area weed, Mexicans, Crips, Bloods, 2pac, Snoop Dogg, sunshine, and I got Kurupt to do a guest verse. I’m covered!” Pandering to the West Coast aside, the song’s bouncy G-funk is an awkward fit with the rest of the album.
Speaking of awkward fits, “Divine Glory” features Masta Killa spitting a love rap over Blue Magic’s “Secret Lover”, a staple of every Lowrider Oldies collection ever. While you can’t doubt Masta Killa’s sincerity and honesty, the sample oozes ‘80s cheese and completely undermines him like a drunk idiot photobombing a happy couple taking a picture on their anniversary (for example, me two weeks ago at my buddy’s Second Wedding Anniversary and Fred’s In Town Extravaganza). Meanwhile, the best beat on the album, “Dirty Soul”, gets wasted by Masta Killa shouting out his favorite soul artists and then covering ODB’s “Hippa to Da Hoppa”. There’s no actual original rapping on it, and ODB is undoubtedly turning in his grave because he would have shredded the Blackinati instrumental.
It seems that Masta Killa is intent on saving his best material for Loyalty is Royalty. Selling My Soul is a 36-minute EP/glorified mixtape that’s technically an LP that Masta Killa uses to generate buzz for the next album. Promo for this tape acknowledges that Loyalty is Royalty will be quite different than Selling My Soul, which is a great sign. You mean your next album won’t sound anything like this one? Sign me up!