Don’t sleep on this self-titled debut album from VLTR KMBT. They’re a duo comprised of MCs Sankofa & ACT-1, inspired by Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… I’m pretty sure Sankofa plays the role of Ghostface Killah, while ACT-1 is rapping in place of Raekwon. Sankofa sounded a little Ghostface-esque with his delivery on certain tracks. I wasn’t familiar with ACT-1 prior to hearing this project, but I’d become a fan of Sankofa earlier in 2022. I think this project is one of the best things he dropped last year. It came out on December 8th, and since it was so late in the year I don’t think it got the attention it deserved, so I definitely wanted to give it some shine here in case any of you guys missed it.
The first highlight I wanna talk about is called Move in Fly Sneaks. The sample based production on this track from Burnt Bakarak is absolute fire. That’s the main reason this song stood out so much from the others for me. It’s probably my favorite beat on the album. The opening verse from Sankofa is of course fire. He’s just rapping about his affinity for fly shoes. On paper it doesn’t sound super interesting, but it’s just really well done, and it helps that his flow and rhymes are on point.
Devlin got the flavor dropping, every Saturday I’m copping
First Come First Serve, the versions with the work is awesome
No circus walking, I’m supporting indie brands here
I hear the flute music playing, maybe Zamphir
Membership card, respect the process, yep it’s all of that
Preorders rolling in in 3 months and I’ll adapt
It’s like a Christmas gift that I forgot, surprising, dope
Sometimes spending extra bucks is just the price of growth
The second verse from ACT-1 is really nice too. He kinda tells a little story about some shoes being sold out before he has a chance to get them, which is something I think a lot of people including myself can relate to.
Been refreshing my browser all morning for these Jordan IVs
Exclusive shit that can’t be bought in stores
Limited colorways accentuate my aura as an orator
Closets full, now the bedroom corners where I store 'em all
My girl asking what the purpose is to keep purchasing kicks
When we should be saving for a house to birth our kids
Somewhere in America new versions are surfacing
Gotta get 'em quick, I know the vultures are circling
The song is dope as hell. The next track that I wanna highlight is called Mahogany Laserbeams. This is what I was talking about when I said that Sankofa had some Ghostface Killah in him on this project. This performance was definitely inspired by Ghostface. Not only in the vocal delivery, but some of the terms he uses as well. Like “supercalifragiballistic.” His flow and rhymes were absolute fire on this verse. That might actually be his best verse on the whole album. He killed this shit.
Ram a lam, a couple ding dongs
Leave them so confused, open wounds with puppet strings gone
Flapping in the breeze, flypaper snacking aperitif, packing heat
Rolling through with the new ballys and some baggy jeans
Machiavelli scarfing Billie Jean’s red jelly beans
Armor all steady dripping, peep the new Pirellis gleam
Keep a guillotine in my pocket, name of Tina Turner
3 berserkers, left them baby talking, deep in Gerber
The second verse from ACT-1 was really great too. I really liked that line where he said a sex change couldn’t make him miss. That was clever. The production from wingclipper is pretty tight, but it’s mainly the actual rapping that makes this track stand out to me so much. I think it’s dope as hell. Track 12 is another highlight called 27″ Zenith. I really love the beat from Explicit Mass Productions. It’s a lot more emotional-sounding than most of the other instrumentals on this album, and the MCs were able to match the tone of the production pretty well. Sankofa killed the first verse.
The way it calls to me is altering my DNA
If there is a beast at bay, I'll pay the price and be okay
I heard that Jesus saves and keeps receipts in deepest graves
And the snakes of recent seemingly just sneak away
They fade to places so ostentatious, obnoxious wages
The long-awaited sedated from trauma lost in hazes
The dose is just approximated, but I walk with greatness
My tongue is swollen with thirst, a single drop could save him
I actually think that ACT-1’s verse is arguably even better though. The way he rhymed about his disillusionment with the rap industry was really well done.
Back when music excited me, I would write with ease Now I just squeeze these thoughts out to try and find relief If I’ma die of this disease, please let me leave my mark By tearing all of these fair weather rappers apart I’ve always been in it for the art and the culture That’s why I got no choice, but to doubt the heart of a vulture Combating the poachers with the ultra-instinct glow-up These jokers would do anything for a little exposure
This might be my favorite song on the album. I don’t know yet. I haven’t chosen a favorite song as of January 15th. I’m leaning towards this one though. We’ll see. Anyway, the song is dope as hell. The last track I wanna talk about is the finale, RainHailSnowAndEarthquakes. It’s a posse cut that features JON?DOE, Chuck Brown, Paavo, Ekspan, Quintessential, and Memphis Reigns. What’s crazy is that they managed to fit all these MCs on a song that’s under three minutes. My favorite verse on this track has to go to JON?DOE. He spit 8 bars of pure fire. His flow and rhymes were phenomenal. Ekspan really killed his verse too.
Opponents grossly negligent and hopelessly conditioned
To the misconception that they could control their soul's position
Cold Moon up in Babylon, reproachful and vindictive
As we're working to your disappearance, homie, ghostly business
I mean, all of the verses on this song are good, but those two stood out to me the most. The production from Chef Mike is really nice too. It definitely sounds like something that RZA could’ve produced back in ’95. I really enjoyed this track, and I think it’s a great, exciting way to close the album. It’s dope as hell.
This album is great. There’s not a single track here that I don’t like. Every single verse on this project is very well performed, whether it be by one of the actual members of VLTR KMBT or the features. I’m wondering if we’re ever gonna get more work from these guys as a duo or if this is a one time thing. I’m definitely gonna be interested in hearing more work from ACT-1 because this was a great introduction to him as an artist. As far as albums directly inspired by Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… go, I think this is some of the best shit you’re gonna find. The producers really came through with some RZAish beats, which I appreciate. I really don’t have any consistent gripes with this project. I’d be lying if I said I thought there were any glaring issues. This shit is dope. Check it out.