The Army of the Pharoahs has developed a
pretty good reputation in the underground scene considering that they’ve only
ever released one single. It helps that they’ve got a big crew and boast some
pretty recognizable names in Apathy, Celph-Titled, Jedi Mind Tricks
and 7L & Esoteric. Either way, The Torture Papers
comes with the ol’ “highly anticipated” label attached to it.

The 13 song album is pretty much just what you’d expect, or at least what I
expected. The beats are epic and sweeping, shit that could score a roman
gladiator battle mixed with dudes who obviously grew up listening to DJ
and Large Professor. This is well exemplified
in the massive 9 man “Battle Cry” over panic-stricken strings or the ridiculously
hard hitting title track. Also meeting expectation; Demigodz Apathy and
steal the show at every turn; Esoteric
sounds really dope ’til you realize his flow is basically the same every 16
minus a slight disguise; Vinnie Paz spits gravel but still
can’t rhyme for shit (“I’m slightly disturbed/Pazienza is nice with the
words/that’s the reason that I’m fly like the life of a bird”
); Outerspace,
and Chief Kamachi continue to improve and King
Syze, Des Devious
and Faez One struggle to make an
identity in the massive clik.

Backed by a troop of largely unknown producers (Shuko,
DC The Midi
Alien, Undefined, The White Shadow, Loptimist, Rain, Oaks
), the Army
does little more than their trademark over-the-top battle raps. The raps may be
rather one dimensional, but you know what you’re getting and at least they do
it really well, so it’s all good. Among those of particular dopeness is the White
produced “Narrow Grave,” which sports a ridiculously ill beat. “Henry the 8th
keeps the head nodding and the moody “Pull the Pins Out” is just bodied by Celph
and Eso. “Tear It Down,” in all its Primoesque
glory, is stolen by Reef The Lost Cause. As is the touching “Into The Arms of Angels”
by Vinnie Paz, who delivers maybe the verse of
his career.

The Torture Papers didn’t re-write the book on Hip Hop by any means,
but it is a rock solid album that should get repeat spins for most of the year.
For the sense of name recognition the album is billed as a Jedi Mind
Tricks Presents
project, which is odd considering uber-producer Stoupe
is nowhere to be found (Paz is all over it though). Despite
his absence, Stoupe influence is buried deep in the album as
multiple beats could easily pass as his. I still can’t believe he didn’t
produce “Narrow
.” Even without him, AOTP bring a plague of