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Artist: Prophets Of da City
Album: Ghetto Code
Label: Ghetto Ruff
Production: Ready D, Shaheen, Issy Ariefden
Guests: Mpho, Various Cape Town and Johannesburg MCs
Stats: 1997; 16 tracks at 62mins
Reviewed by: Mass Dosage

The release of Ghetto Code by Cape Town's Prophets Of the City has made them one of the most prolific South African bands in terms of the number of albums they have released. After the creative effort "Age of truth" (which was generally well accepted and respected by the South African Hip-Hop community), they ran into a number of problems. Their next release "Phunk phlow" was only released on tape and had a few overly American influences. "Universal Soldiers" (which they worked on and recorded in the UK) was not released in South Africa - raising a few eyebrows as local Hip-Hoppers wondered if the Prophets had forgotten where they came from.

"Ghetto Code" aims to correct these perceptions and more - by including some tracks which were on "Universal Soldiers" as well as all new material. Party jam "Heyta da" starts the album off on a nice note, but this is followed by the monotonous "Roof is on fire" - I've lost count of how many times I've heard this chorus rehashed in various songs. The "Wild Stylez" remix has been made more radio-friendly, but this is not a good thing - the rawness and vitality which distinguished the original (their big UK single release) is missing. Things look up with "Planets + Stars + Moon" which samples both Method Man and Redman. The tracks towards the end of the album are more chilled and reflective and raise some interesting issues (about District 6 in particular).

On the whole this is a mature release from the Prophets which has a couple of gems amongst many mediocre tracks.There is an African feel to most of the album, although this is not as prominent as it was on "Age of truth". The good tracks just go to prove how much potential they do have, if only they had someone giving them more guidance as to what they are good at and what kind of stuff they should give up on. The production on this release is average - no hiccups, but no major creative strides either. "Ghetto Code" is worth checking out and showcases the Prophets' rhyming and scratching skills (which are definitely up to international standards) - and is proof that one of South Africa's most successful and longstanding bands have come a long way since their early days and have no intention of fading into obscurity yet. Let's just hope that poor marketing and skeptic record company executives don't stop this one from being actively consumed by the public. [6.5/10]

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