Knowledge The Pirate - Flintlock (CD)
Given a leg up by Roc Marciano, the veteran rapper returns with his own take on classic, streetwise East Coast rap: tales of nefarious business delivered in painstaking, and often chilling, detail.
Calling yourself the “first gangster to rap over Neptunes beats” is a bold claim—but it’s just one in a series of industry boasts Knowledge the Pirate has amassed in an under-the-radar career that goes back to the 1990s. The rapper, who splits his time between Harlem, Philadelphia, and New Jersey, was originally discovered by Will Smith’s de facto bodyguard, Charlie Mack, in a rap battle. He was flown to Hollywood to attend the Jack the Rapper industry convention, where he impressed new jack swing pioneer Teddy Riley and signed a short-lived deal with Interscope. Knowledge moved on to rhyming over early beats by Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo before Clipse became the Neptunes’ dope boys of choice; he also notched up ghostwriting credits on Will Smith’s Born to Reign. Throughout his musical moves, Knowledge maintained his street reputation, which allowed him to later brag, “I’m a real street dude. I’m not really bullshitting. I took Biggie Smalls’ girl.” But despite having his talent noticed by influential names, Knowledge grew impatient and distanced himself from the music world. (Pitchfork)