It's hard to say who's to blame, but Durham rapper L.E.G.A.C.Y. epitomizes North Carolina hip-hop's horde of missed marketing opportunities: Early in the game, L.E.G.A.C.Y. was known as the Jim Morrison, wanna-be-rock-star of local rap. He'd arrive at shows dressed completely in red or in metal-studded leather belts, crawl around the stage in the clutch of pathos and moan his verses into a microphone. Someone should have shipped the dude and his horror-show persona to a label like New York's Def Jux, home to fellow miscreants El-P, Aesop Rock and Vast Aire. Instead, L.E.G.A.C.Y.'s debut LP, Project Mayhem, was released as a package deal with the party jams of The Away Team. It fell victim to a misdirected promotional campaign, and opportunities dwindled for L.E.G. here. He headed north.
But just when you thought this brand of bloodthirsty douche-baggery couldn't take L.E.G. any further, the sweet little Cub Scout is back with a new mixtape, N.C. Chainsaw Massacre. It's meant as a prelude for his second LP, Suicide Music. Someone has one too many Disney classics on his DVD shelf...
Given his battles with a corroding Justus League crew, a thinning Carolina hip-hop scene and generally being misunderstood, L.E.G. is entitled to some lunacy on his comeback, and he fits a nice chunk of it into this 30-minute exercise. Hosted by DJ Flash and featuring area standbys like K-Hill, Chaundon, KAZE, and Nervous Reck, Massacre illustrates that L.E.G.'s still packed with stocky wit and beastly insults. His tenure as an underappreciated Carolina rapper is likely what's led him to sound so often like a conceited nut-job spewing tough lines, and that quality's top-shelf here. On "4 Cornered Room," for instance, producer Khrysis' drums come drilled by volts of lightning guitar samples, and his verses are surrounded by frightening melismas.
Even when he borrows Big Pun's beat for "Leatherface," he slays it: "I was raised on hate/ Kinda like Atlas I will raise my state/ Got it on my back like a piggy back ride/ We selfish in the Kack like, 'Gimme that sky'... and I ain't leavin' this time." We hope not. After all, in these days of hope amid turmoil, where would we be without our favorite pissed-off pessimist?
Correction (Feb. 6, 2009): Did we say miasmas? We meant melismas, of course.