Wednesday, March 16, 2016

The Greatest Killarmy Song They Forgot To Release a Single For

Killarmy's first album had a lot of hot songs. Killarmy was dope. They were Wu-Tang juniors, of course; and maybe the official Wu were generally more talented. But pretty quickly, the core Clan started getting a little cartoonish. You know, they had their mafioso aliases: Lou Diamonds, Joey Bananas, Method Man starting calling himself Johnny Blaze. Then RZA started doing the sci-fi thing, and it was just like they were marketing themselves as toys for kids. "Now get Batman in is ice climbing suit!" etc. So the cool thing about Sunz of Man and them is that they were like additional Wu artists who weren't doing all the mainstream persona stuff. Then Sunz started making records like "Shining Star" and Shabazz left, and they were taking major label image direction, too. And I don't need to even talk about the direction Deadly Venoms took. So Killarmy was like the next group of Wu guys that were just real, raw MCs making records without trying to sell to the Saturday morning crowd.

And so even though they never made any gold-lined swimming pools for the Priority Records executives, their 1997 album Silent Weapons for Deadly Wars was in every head's deck. And they had three singles off of that, which is pretty good: "Camouflage Ninjas," "Wu-Renegades" and "Swinging Swords." And they had six rappers, which is a lot for a single group to get to know all at once; so at first it was hard to even keep track of them all and who was rapping which verse, especially since they didn't have the over-the-top personas or Milk D-like voices. Like now we know, because the Wu family's become legendary and half of Killarmy got solo albums and all But back in '97, it was just like they really were this army of privates the Clan had ready to record more albums. So maybe individually they weren't quite the well-rounded artists the bigger Wu stars were...

I still remember the first time I heard "Blood for Blood" and two of 'em used the same punchline. The one guy says, "slaughter tracks like Chainsaw Massacre," and then two verses later, another guy says, "we create a massacre like Texas Chainsaw." Like, don't you guys even check with each other in advance about what you're going to put on the record? It's not even a clever line to say once; it's just an easy reference. ODB already had a better line like that on his album. But having it twice on the same song, it's like two friends showing up their high school reunion in the same dress.

But that didn't matter, because it was like they had all these guys ready to come out and kick gritty NY verses over these incredible Wu-Tang tracks (RZA gets a mountain of credit, but most of their stuff was by the criminally underrated 4th Disciple). And so they had three singles, but they had another song, my favorite song on the album: "Fair, Love and War." They shot a music video for it and everything, which, you know... you can't even say about "Camouflage Ninjas" or "Wu-Renegades" (though the B-side "Wake Up" got one). This should've been big for them. Not Z-100 big, but at least mixtape big. The track is ill, but they never put it out as a single. Not even a white label promo 12". I think there's only been like two or three times in hip-hop history where a song's had a video and no 12" single (excluding this modern mp3 era). And Wu was putting everything out on wax in those days. Like I said, Killarmy had all these other non-video songs on 12", but not this one.

"Love, Fair and War" is one of 4th's tracks, and it's insane. What the heck sample is that? It's like a 70s war movie meets a video game with screeching bagpipes and classic Wu drums. Over the break, they lay in these dark, wartime newscasts saying things like, "it's very hard to maintain the emotional and political zeal that is needed to kill lots of people." Yeah, they also incorporate a lot of terrorism imagery that people would probably back away from in today's climate; but in a way that actually makes it even more effective in 2016.

But don't misunderstand, this song's not really about anything. This isn't social commentary, it's just brilliant imagery incorporated into freestyle rhymes. Killa Sin (he stood out even at the time for how he used his name as part of an impressive multi in his verse) sets the tone with a little narrative about how they'd all spark it at the end of the day, "share a giggle and a Heineken" and have a cypher. Then the next three dudes (Dom Pacino, Beretta 9 and Shogun Assasson) just spit crazy ill verses with this military imagery and no hooks in between them, like, "Nightmarish visions of death, catch a flashback. This gunfire out of control; I'm getting sent back. Hell no. Make my way back to the foxhole for ammo. In enough shit to bury Rambo." It's what we used to call a monster jam, it could go on for twice as long and not wear out its welcome. In fact, I really wish it kept going and 9th Prince had gotten on there as well (I understand Islord was indisposed), and maybe even a guest or two.

But yeah, no single. I was going to say it's even more of a shame, because it means we never got that instrumental. But now that I think about it, there was an instrumental LP version of Silent Weapons. But still, somebody at Priority messed up not making this a single. I would trade a dozen junk "Wu Wear," "Say What You Want," "Killa Beez" and "America" 12"s for a "Fair, Love and War" sticker cover.


  1. Yeah, Killarmy was good. I always felt there music was more enjoyable than Sunz of Man, who were a little too preachy for me.

  2. Enjoyable write-up, Werner. Had a laugh about the Texas Chainsaw Massacre factoid.

  3. C'mon "America" is pretty dope save the beat trailing on to long at the end. Anyway, agreed "Fair, Love & War" would've made a good single. Especially if "Dress To Kill", "Shelter", "Burning Season" or "Seems It Never Fails" were on the flip side. Killarmy had joints.