Sankofa, the Midwest rapper extraordinaire and busiest man in the independent hip-hop scene, has never met a beat he can’t rap to. I’m imagining every rhythmic swish he hears made by the wiper blades on rainy drives to work, or random electronic pulses that appear from the ether, are stages set for new rhymes. His style has always been based in an everyday outlook, the point-of-view of a guy who’s living the 9-to-5 life, has a family, and talks about how the world affects his own. It’s thoughtful and earnest, yet delivered in a booming and confident resonance.
On Sankofa’s newest release, the tight and old school-flavored Iron Kofa Sharp, the Fort Wayne MC works with producer and beat maker Iron Mike Sharp. Working his magic on an Ensoniq ASR-X, Sharp hands some of the grittiest and grooviest beats (eight to be exact) over to Sankofa for him to put his magic to. The result is Iron Kofa Sharp, a tight set of urgent and muscular hip-hop that is sure to keep you engaged for the remainder of the summer.
There’s a sense of urgency to album opener, “The Word Grave” featuring JON?DOE and Sharp, with a harpsichord sample and a low-key beat. The sparse production leaves plenty of room for Sankofa and JON?DOE to fill every bit with next-level rhymes. “Acid Rain Delays” keeps that feeling of urgency going with razor-wit lines like, “Half enamored, souls pouring from a bet that’s fecal/A glass decanter turning wine into Flint water/Lock the high and mighty in a sauna let them sweat it out/Wet the ref’s whistle in a rigged game, no set amount.”
Elsewhere, “Desairology” brings in some of the ’70s funk feels that RZA brought on Wu-Tang’s classic debut. Tracks like “Building Buildings,” “Tomb of Colossus” featuring G. Fam Black, and album closer “Jorge Campos Fits” rounds out another bulletproof album with razor-sharp rhymes, old-school beats, and production that would make MF Doom proud.
It’s no surprise that Iron Kofa Sharp is yet another stellar rap album from Sankofa. The Fort Wayne MC sounds like he’s at the top of his game here. When his next album hits in a few months, I’ll be saying the same thing.