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The Last Emperor Music, Magic, Myth

Long overdue, but very much aware of the moment, the Last Emperor is indeed the last of a dying breed. Continuing in the vein of the underground epic "Secret Wars," where hip-hop stars battled comicbook supervillains, Music, Magic, Myth harks back to the mid-'90s lyric-focused style and street-conscious content. He's all about snapping the lyrics percussively, often with multi-syllabic rhymes, and has an equal penchant for keen social commentary and mythic comic-book narratives. Backed by the Beatminerz, Prince Paul and Ayatollah, this is durable, classic hip-hop.

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