Photo by Jeanne RiceKHMER RAP KING
PRACH LY DALAMA . . . THE LOST CHAPTER(21-TRACK CD)
This is the second full-length from Prach Ly, a Long Beach hip-hopper who crafts eloquent rhymes about the horrors of growing up in late-'70s Cambodia during the reign of the genocide-bent Khmer Rouge (think "Taliban goes to Cambodia," and you can only start getting the picture). Three years after Dalama: The End'n Is Just the Beginnin', this follow-up finds Prach telling more stories about his family's flight from that bloody regime, often in verse that's as harrowing as anything Eminem could concoct (take a listen to "The Great Escape"), though in Prach's case, you get a pretty good idea that there isn't much that's fiction. Prach is a history teacher, really: in "I Just Want You to Understand," he goes back to antebellum Cambodia, and what war ultimately did to the land and its people, summing up neatly with a lyric uttered a few cuts later: "It's about power, territory and rice/And of course that comes with a hefty price." He's also improved as a rapper and record-maker: his beats are funkier and harder; the production quality is much improved; and, except for some lines of dialogue lifted from The Killing Fields, audio snippets from a Pol Pot-era BBC documentary and Bush's Sept. 11 speech, there are no samples. Just some great, old-style hip-hop rhythm & rhymin', peppered with brilliant side trips on which Prach fuses beautiful passages of traditional Cambodian music (played by multi-instrumentalist Ho C. Chan) with the Khmer language, with spare but effective beats underneath. No matter what tongue he uses, though, Prach can throw down verbs with the best of 'em.
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