The first project I listened to and reviewed of New York’s hip hop duo Constant Deviants was their fourth studio album titled Avant Garde, which was released back in May 2015. I definitely recall enjoying the LP but really what struck me at first was the fact that not only had I not heard of Constant Deviants at the time but also how long they’ve been in the hip hop game. DJ Cutt and M.I. make up the duo and the two bring a sound that is very much their own but so New York at the same time. When it comes to New York hip hop these days, many are ready and have been pointing fingers at the legendary city saying a number of things about its current state of hip hop. I won’t speak on any such things since I like to think of myself as more of a watchman observing history, but New York seems to be doing just fine to me and that’s especially so when speaking about Constant Deviants and their latest album titled Omerta.
Hip hop has a long history of storytelling but it seems to be more of a lost art than anything else these days. But from the start of listening to Omerta, I am glad to say that Constant Deviants not only told a good story, but I learned a various number of things as well.
For the uninitiated, including myself at first, the word “Omerta” is actually a code of silence about criminal activity that is practiced by the infamous Mafia crime syndicate. Learning this I knew immediately what I was in for and it was even furthered by the fact that DJ Cutt and M.I. are no longer themselves on Omerta but instead have taken on the roles of Charles “Lucky” Luciano and Meyer Lansky who are two of the most notorious original gangsters in United States history.
I sure was. And I couldn’t wait to listen to this release.
Omerta opens most appropriately with a sample of Joe Pesci’s character from the classic 1990s gangster film GoodFellas. The track is titled “GFTOH”, I’ll let you make a guess at what that stands for, and it kicks off the album very well. The track has excellent old school jazzy production with plenty of scratching and M.I.’s rugged voice fit perfectly.
Lyrically the album was refreshing for me to hear. I am not a fan of putting artists in boxes but lyrically the album could be described best as mafioso rap. You have references to various terms in gangster culture centered around matters like money and respect to say the least, which was welcoming to hear in 2016 given the current standard of hip hop. In listening to Omerta I was able to envision the setting perfectly and that’s one the very things quality storytelling does best.
“Bada Bing” is the second track and continues with the amazing scratching (which I forgot how much I truly missed hearing in hip hop these days) and even has a Jay-Z sample whom of course is another New York legend. A heavy understatement. Yes, I know.
Other than the excellent mafioso lyricism, there are bars as well that stood out to me for comedic and clever reasons like, “I don’t give an ‘f’ like my top teeth missing,” on the seventh track “Make My Bones” and even the diss move, “Don’t say shit like a Chief Keef verse,” on the track “Sparks Steakhouse”.
Other tracks that I liked the most were “Delorean”, “Fuklinski” and “Reign Storms”. All this time when hearing the word “Delorean” I think of the old school ride popularized and immortalized by the Back to the Future film series, but nope. Listen to the track and you’ll learn what else “Delorean” stands for. When listening to “Fuklinski” I had a certified stank face the entire while nodding my head, excellent production here by DJ Cutt. “Reign Storms” was quite a haunting track and I like how M.I. instructed us to go grab some snacks because “this is a movie” and we’re in for some harrowing tales.
When it comes down to it, Omerta is an excellent release by Constant Deviants and I enjoyed this album more than their previous effort. But again this is just my own taste. This album could very much be and would make a great soundtrack to a gangster film in the same vein Jay-Z’s American Gangster album was tied in directly with Sir Ridley Scott’s film of the same name.
Sit back and take in Omerta as Constant Deviants take on the personas of legendary gangsters long since passed. You will enjoy the ride, but don’t let the lifestyles and power go to your head.