Premier showing

Sorry, Lauryn. Premier rules the world. The East Coast’s leading beatmaker can seemingly do no wrong in 2000, with everyone from Royce the 5’9” to Black Eyed Peas seeking him out to provide instant street buzz and popularity with mix DJs. Now his MC proteégés are expanding his empire. This album can be seen as a companion piece to MOP’s brilliant Warriorz — both were executive produced, mixed and overseen by DJ Premier, but with unique results reflecting the artists’ personalities.

Afu-Ra’s full-length debut has Primo’s unmistakable touch, with melodic loops chopped up to perfection on the remix of “Mic Stance” and plenty of gorgeous beats seemingly wasted on interludes and skits. However, this album is far from one-dimensional, as Afu has ventured outside the Gang Starr Foundation to bring in an interesting mix of guests and sounds. Cypress Hill’s DJ Muggs curiously reuses a beat from his recent album on “Soul Assassination,” and contributions from Wu-Tang’s GZA, True Master and Masta Killa give “Big Acts Little Acts” and “Mortal Kombat” a 36-chambers sound. Two reggae fusions, “D&D Soundclash” (with Cocoa Brovaz) and the beautiful “Equality” (featuring Kymani Marley) show Puffy and Shyne how it should be done. One artist who is noticeably absent is Jeru the Damaja, who brought Afu into the rap game — but Afu-Ra is now fully his own artist. His super-scientific lyrics have come a bit more down to earth, but he’s still operating on a higher plane than most MCs, punctuating his rapid-fire flow with jewels of knowledge and social criticism. A perfect complement to street soldiers MOP, who appear on “Warfare,” one of the album’s highlights, Afu is like the wise martial arts master who can battle physically, but would rather teach. Although not quite the veteran masterpiece of Warriorz, Body of the Life Force lives up to the high expectations and pedigree of DJ Premier’s talented stable.

E-mail Luke Forrest at [email protected].

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