This is the 5th full-length album from West Coast-based hip hop collective the Soul Assassins. Founded in 1992 by DJ Muggs, their debut Chapter I would become a bonafide classic & would follow it up with the equally solid II. This was followed up almost a decade later with Intermission & another 9 years later when they got back together on Dia del Asesinato. But coming fresh off producing a plethora of albums for a wide range of different artists, Muggs is looking to close out the trilogy that began Chapter I & pick up where II left off by taking everyone to Death Valley.
After the “Time Has Come” instrumental intro, the first song “It’s On” by Boldy James sets it all off talking about how he & the Concreatures bleed the block over a lusciously groovy beat whereas “Check In” by Jay Worthy gives off a more blaxploitation inspired sound as he flexes the chess moves he’s been making. “Sicilian Gold” by Ghostface Killah & Westside Gunn gives off a more triumphant vibe so Starks & the FLYGOD can brag about their drip, but then the piano-heavy “67 Keys” by Meyhem Lauren as well as Roc Marciano & Rome Streetz finds the trio getting in their coke rap bag.
After the “Mr. Cartoon” interlude, “Joker’s Wild” by CeeLo Green shifts into boom bap turf taking pride in being Chicano just before “Shell Casings” by T.F goes for a darker atmosphere advising that those who try to play hero will get shot. “Street Made” by Freddie Gibbs & Scarface weaves more kicks & snares into the fold talking about being made by their respective hoods that is until “Where We At” by Boldy James gives off a drumless edge this time basing the subject matter around one of his most famous adlibs.
“We Ain’t Playin’” by Jay Worthy, T.F & 2Eleven returns to the boom bap declaring that they ain’t fuckin’ around whatsoever while “Burn the Playbook” by Domo Genesis & Evidence sees the pair over more kicks & snares with a cloudy backdrop promising to never run slow. After the “Majik” interlude, “Crazy Horse” by Crimeapple & Roc Marciano strips the drums once more spitting their signature gangsta raps while the lead single “Metropolis” by Method Man & Slick Rick hooks the kicks & snares back up reminding that they can’t be touched lyrically all these decades later.
To start the final leg of the album, “We Coming for the Safe” by Boldy James is an eerie way to do it of course talking about breaking into safes while the track “Skeleton Bones” by Rome Streetz further demonstrating himself to be gave of the most skilled pens in the game currently by dropping lyrical acrobatics. And prior to the outro, the final song “Dump on’ Em” by Cypress Hill alongside former N.W.A members Ice Cube & MC Ren ends the 26 year trilogy with a beat kin to Cypress Hill IV repping the west coast.
Already over 3 decades since the Assassins have been around albeit over a quarter of a century since they started dropping music & 5 years after returning from a near decade-long hiatus with Dia del Asesinato, there’s not a single shadow of doubt in my mind that Soul Assassins III: Death Valley couldn’t have closed out the trilogy any better. The guests are well-balanced between hip hop veterans & of the biggest names in the underground currently as they all come together to destroy mics in their own fashion backed by Muggs’ distinctly raw production