When a rapper rhymes as fast as Berkley Priest, it would be nice to know what he's rapping about. But Berkley Priest hardly slows down enough to comprehend what he's spitting about, so one would have to read the lyrics. He's not brag-rapping about guns, sex, and drugs, yet that's not to say that those themes are not present. Instead, Berkley is letting us into his city of sin, a place where he was raised but abandons. The city, metaphorically his mind, is a menacing jungle hotter than Texas in July. And whenever he can, he makes good use of pop-culture, mentioning films and recognized artists to get to the point.
But even when reading the manic-poetry, it's still difficult to wrap your head around his thoughts. All one can guess is that he is dealing with the yin and yang of his life. Choosing not to pre-write but let the angst just roll off his tongue, the message seems sinister yet somewhat hopeful for those who are sitting at the edge of life or confined.
Berkley Priest is part of the duo Cata9tales. The other half is Kreator who is the beat-maker and together they recently produced the album Hello Maybe Everything. Both musicians used to be drummers for rock bands, and that influence is evident. It's easy to imagine them as big haired rockers as they mingle between hip-hop and hard rock.
Together their music seems to be an immediate reaction, a cathartic response to the allure of selling ones soul. And "Heartbeats on Hold" spits out the conflict with these words, "Could I be infinite? Could I be everything I dreamed? / Or will I get pulled back through the cracks and trapped?" The Kreator's boom-bap instrumental is in sync with the mood as he keeps up with the strength of the album.
Berkley Priest's "Children of the Cloud" is a presage song about the new hell, the mangled tangled web of cyberspace filled with voyeurs and narcissists. No longer physical, the World Wide Web is like the wild wild west where one can be anything they want to be, but all they are looking for is a heartbeat.
Along with the hard edge sound perhaps a connection to the Bible can be made, for the name used by the band, Cata9tales, is an assumed instrument used for scourging Jesus. What is more, their individual monikers add to the biblical link. But one can't help expecting some kind of demonic gargoyle to pop out while listening to the music. Even the album cover plays a trick on the eyes. The cover sometimes appearing like an image of Jesus radiating light upon darkness; other times the darkness appearing to prevail. However, it is up to the listener to determine which side the album promotes.
The combination, Berkley's frenzied rapping juxtaposed to the Kreator's boom bap, is worth stepping away from your own jungle book and listening to Cata9tales' songs about everything.
You can listen to Cata9tales' album Hello Maybe Everything on Bandcamp.