REVIEW: Diabolic: Liar & a Thief

Diabolic is a political emcee from Long Island, New York, who was first introduced to audiences on the hidden track from Immortal Technique’s well-respected debut album, Revolutionary: Vol. 1. Despite developing a promising rep with numerous radio freestyles and participating in various rap battles on the underground circuit since — including a face-off with his own protégé, himself — it was this devastating verse alone from Tech’s classic album that really got Hip-Hop heads anticipating more from Diabolic.


Liar & A Thief has reportably been over three years in the making, and immediately from the opening track ‘Stand By’, ‘Bolic’s hunger and commitment to be anything but an Immortal Technique clone unflinchingly hits home. Assisted by some hard-hitting production by Engineer, the artist spits “‘Bolic’s optimistic, opposite; apocalyptic/ Brainstorm, make it drop acidic toxic liquid,” with an aggressive vocal tone and on-point flow, to begin his declaration as a skilful emcee within this genre.


Things go beyond that and become more political with ‘Bolic choosing to incorporate various conspiracy theories within his confrontational, battle-ready lyricism. This can be seen on tracks such as ‘Loose Cannon’ (“It’s like cancer prone, DNA strands were cloned/ And gene spliced with victims at Ground Zero’s landing zone”); ‘Soldier’s Logic’ (“I’m worshipped like god Garuda or the tribe of Judah/ Coz my medulla oblongata got a cocked bazooka”); and ‘Truth Pt.2’ (“So I got to fight, cause I don’t care how it sounds/ The CIA planted C4 to bring the towers down”).


Primarily, though, despite being billed as a “Conscious Hip-Hop” album, this is a very personal vendetta for ‘Bolic. ‘I Don’t Wanna Rhyme’, the first single to be released, conveys the frustrations felt as a young, up-and-coming emcee attempting to channel his emotions via music; while ‘Reasons’ paraphrases this and talks about the “liar and a thief” persona that was created in retaliation to the major labels within the industry marketing wack rappers over those who strive for genuine substance within their rhymes.


’12 shots’ is arguably the standout track of the album as it showcases ‘Bolic at his most accomplished (and perhaps most surprising) as a storyteller. He depicts the life of a drunk sitting at a local bar, necking various shots of alcohol which lead to his lack of self-control, compromised judgement and impulsivity. Self-destruction seems to be the overall theme of the album, and such lingers most prominently on this track thanks to ‘Bolic’s concise lyricism, and Engineer’s harrowing production that goes with.


Liar also has some big-name guest spots, which sometimes work in the album’s favour, and sometimes don’t. ‘Not Again’, for example, features Jedi Mind Tricks frontman, Vinnie Paz, in his usual, foul-mouthed manner; and despite ‘Bolic being unintentionally overshadowed on ‘Frontlines’ by Immortal Technique going absolutely mental for the last two-thirds of the song, you can forgive ‘Bolic for taking a backseat and allowing an record label partner-in-crime destroy the mic for a couple of mins, considering that his verse contributes to the overall heaviness of the album.


Not-quite-so-impressive moments include ‘Order and Chaos’, which features a solid verse from ex-Non Phixion member Ill Bill, but has a beat that sounds almost like a bad imitation of the one earlier on ‘Soldier’s Logic’; ‘In Common’, which, despite featuring ‘Bolic spitting rhymes back and forth with fan-favourite Canibus, is disappointing considering that the latter emcee’s verse is not on par with his usual standards; and ‘Riot’, with Deadly Hunta and John Otto of Limp Bizkit, is a bit of an irritable mess.


Mediocre tracks aside, the album makes a pretty good statement about Diabolic’s potential as a Hip-Hop artist overall here. Liar & A Thief is a solid album that warrants repeat listens and gives the impression that there’s a lot more to come from the artist in the near future.


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