If, like us, you're still scratching your head while contemplating the possible symbolism of Raleigh emcee Cesar Comanche's last album title, Squirrel and The Aces, just stop. Comanche's fourth and most recent LP, Die in Your Lap—D.O.T.F.W., leaves little room for interpretation: Comanche will either resuscitate his rep and become a hip-hop star around here or re-route his escape before his rap livelihood is demolished by his scene's disaffection.
Consider the video for the first single, the 9th Wonder-produced "Hands High." Shot in the most obvious of locations for a hip-hop video—Wroclaw, Poland, also known to hip-hop historians as the birthplace of hip-hop, which is actually sarcasm—the video illustrates Comanche's growing collection of passport stamps as he flies overseas to headline shows in foreign countries while being largely neglected in his hometown. Around here, the stagnant hip-hop industry is laying off good emcees left and right. On "Shame," Comanche addresses the woeful dilemma above another of Khrysis' grisly war-chant beats: "I'll never turn my back on the local crowd/ So now some noise get made and from that some of the bills get paid/ And from the growing fan base the biggest shows get played/ Now the local cats feel betrayed." It's clear that the bickering and lack of reliability from so-called fans has taken a toll on Comanche, turned him into the pitiless ex-boyfriend whose newest tryst is the idea of moving forward as an emcee.
The nervy demeanor continues on "What's Wrong," where Comanche revisits the fisticuff-brand of emceeing he introduced on his Paper Gods LP. That's where we first heard the song "Lamb to Lion," too, which is revisited here as the self-produced "Lamb to Lion 2." This time, Comanche plays with a different, tongue-twisting style of verbiage, indicting his foes and adding the caveat to the chorus that he could care less if you like his associates. Just like him.
Without any guest appearances, it may be easy to mistake Comanche's new attitude for some type of dissociative disorder. Not so: If Comanche comes across as a snarky rap avenger this time around, it's only because the rap pantheon is full of mortified locals too scared to try. Comanche refuses to be one of them, and that gumption pays off big with Die in Your Lap.