DOC GRUESOME & EJ PROPHET: Four Horns
Release year: 2022
Label: S’laughter Visions
We continue to pick apart the haul of somewhat recent Cerberus Clique/S’laughter Visions releases I got my filthy paws on a while ago. On this album, Doc Gruesome, whose solo debut album we reviewed here, and EJ Prophet (of Salem Alumni, who we will return to later on) join forces.
Apparently – as the Doc sings on album closer Dedicated To EJ – this was meant to be the start of a longer lived collaboration. But that was not to be: EJ Prophet tragically passed away in 2022 at under 30. So instead of signalling a new project from the prolific clique, this album became a tribute to one of its members.
Stylistically, this is modern horrorcore rap in a very Cerberus Clique style. Not surprising, considering the members of the clique frequently guest on each others’ tracks, and the album is produced in its entirety by the clique’s “house producer” Bank Hard Beats.
What this means is that if you’re familiar with the output of the clique, you’ll be right at home here. On one hand, consistency and a trademark sound are a good thing. On the other – the clique’s “house sound” is maybe even a bit too narrow. It becomes hard to separate one project and release from the other.
And so, ultimately, this is in a very similar vein with the other releases and projects of the clique. Horrorcore mixed with trap and other more modern strands of rap, with plenty of grime and dirt in the sound. Comparing to some of the other releases, this is perhaps a bit less horror and a bit more street in its lyrical themes, but by and large the differences are nuances.
It’s a bit of a shame that all of these Cerberus Clique releases sound so similar, because this really is a bunch of guys with talent and good delivery. I very much like Doc Gruesome’s gruff, low voice with its decidedly morbid bent. EJ Prophet has the same aggressive edge, but his voice is more tighly wound, like restrained fury. At times, they contrast each other well. At other times, I really can’t tell who’s who. And the similarity of sound does have an impact – a negative one. It feels like a bit like they’re just churning out these releases.
That said, Four Horns isn’t in my opinion one of the clique’s most inspired works even when it comes to the song material. There’s nothing majorly wrong with it, and the fierce Firestarter is a really good track, but unlike the two albums I’ve reviewed before (Doc Gruesome’s solo album and the clique’s Book Of The Dead Chapter I), there are few standout tracks here. Most of the album goes in from one ear and out of the other.
It’s a shame that Doc Gruesome’s and EJ Prophet’s collaborative project never got the chance to evolve from this initial iteration. In comparison to the clique’s other works, this is one of the more modest, but the highlights prove the two rappers could musically connect and bolster each other. It would have been interesting to see where things would have evolved in the future.
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