But it is worth hearing, so big ups go to Raptivism for finally allowing the Last Emperor free reign over the tiny kingdom between street and smart. Over mildly innovative, midtempo grooves by the Beatminerz, Madsol, and Ayatollah, the Emp opens the disc with agile battle flows, then smooths it out with sensitive philosophizing on ghetto lives and loves backed by gentle female vocals. A member of the first category, "Meditation" boasts brawn and brains: "My Han Solo fighting style I call Millennium Falconry/ I change shapes and mind states through the use of mental alchemy/ I climb the tower of Babel and throw rappers off the balcony." More poignantly, on the standout "Repetition," he links habits to happiness by following a struggling rapper, a man-dependent woman, and, finally, an elderly couple who, on their every anniversary, play one "old, dusty record/ Hard times couldn't break it."
Unfortunately, unlike that album, this one won't last 50 years. Although the beats sustain a pleasant griminess while sampling everything from harpsichord to Gothic chanting, none quite jumps off the vinyl. And on the love song "Shine" and the tribute to a representative "Single Mother," the Emp's cadence gets so simplistic it sounds like he's typing his words with two fingers into voice recognition software. Still, at its best Music, Magic, Myth accurately showcases an artist with substance at the core of his style, so go ahead and sound the trumpets: These days, that's cause enough for coronation.