Artist: SupernaturalTitle: The Lost Freestyle FilesRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Brolin Winning
Known across the globe as one of the most skilled freestylers to ever clutch a mic, Supernatural has wowed audiences for years, flexing his razor sharp, off-the-top skills in emcee competitions and on major tours alike. Despite his underground celebrity status and over a decades worth of experience, Supernat has yet to really score a “hit”, watching in frustration as his records got shelved, slept on, poorly promoted, and generally caught up in industry B.S. For his latest release, The Lost Freestyle Files, he combines brand new studio tracks with live recordings of assorted battles and radio appearances.
The album kicks off with the aptly titled “Internationally Known”, a triumphant banger produced by the Beat Junkies’ DJ Rhettmatic. “No matter where I’ve been / whether abroad or the states / when I’m in the place they always recognize the face / the way the mic is laced with impeccable taste / I’m known for stealing the show and leaving without a trace.” Old friends and tour mates Charli 2na and Akil (Jurassic 5) and Iriscience (Dilated Peoples) join the party on “Work It Out”, bringing the heat over a soulful, chime-filled beat courtesy of Joe Buddha.
“The Live Show” flaunts Supernat’s patented “three words” routine, where he asks members of the crowd for three words, then ties them together in a lengthy freestyle. On the same epic track, he gets into the “physical phase”, busting verses about random items that people hold up for him. It’s not as compelling as watching him do it live, but it’s still a unique concept. He also flips some hot impersonations, switching up his voice to sound like Biggie, Slick Rick, and Xzibit. Another brief but interesting highlight finds him rapping like he’s underwater.
Several joints are straight-up freestyles from his many storied radio spots, some dating back to the early 90’s. Included are a couple of sessions from old Stretch Armstrong and Bobbito show where he catches wreck over familiar instrumentals. Natural Elements fans will also be psyched to hear A-Butta alongside Supernat on DJ Riz’s New York University (NYU) show. Of special interest are the disc’s two, much ballyhooed battles – vs. Craig G at the New Music Seminar, and against Juice on the Wake Up Show. Though the sound quality is far from stellar, both confrontations are definitely fun to listen to and the raw intensity of all lyrical combatants is still felt. The album ends with a few more studio tracks, including the mellow, Djinji Brown produced “Flashbacks”.
While today’s appreciation for true-blue emceeing often takes a back seat to name brand producers and all-star guest appearances, Supernatural brings the realness. Between his spirit-crushing battle rhymes, on-point imitations, and seemingly unlimited freestyle abilities, there is no disputing his verbal superiority over many current rap stars. The Lost Freestyle Files is a solid pick-up for anyone who appreciates legitimate mic skills and a dope record from an under-rated master.