While rummaging through the used cd bins at one of the used cd shops that I frequent, I came across an album cover with two young brothers in suits standing behind a pulpit as if tag team preaching. After flipping the cd case over and discovering a pic of the same two brothers in African Dashikis on the back, I quickly concluded this was a hip-hop album and not a gospel album like I initially suspected (that and the fact that the track listing included songs labeled “Freedom Got A Shotgun” and “KK Punanni”). I became even more curious when I noticed this was released on a major label during a time when that was still a pretty rare feat for a hip-hop artist. Since it was only a dollar, and anybody who reads this blog regularly knows what a sucker I am for those dollar deals, I decided to add it to the collection.
Movement Ex was comprised of emcee Lord Mustafa and deejay/producer DJ King Born. Lord Mustafa, whom I will only refer to as Mustafa going forward (because I’m not british and he aint Jesus), was born in New York and moved to Cali as a kid. He later took to the teachings of the 5 Percent Nation, linked up with DJ King (who was also a 5 Percenter), and the duo formed Movement Ex. They would later ink a deal with Columbia and release their
only debut album Movement Ex , before disbanding to forever be forgotten in the annuls of hip-hop. Apparently, Mustafa later changed his emcee alias to Born Allah only to forever be forgotten in the annuls of hip-hop, again.
By 1990 I was breathing, eating, and sleeping hip-hop, so I’m still perplexed at how I completely missed this one.
Or maybe this one missed me. Kind of like a bullet.
Prologue-This Movement Is Ex-Rated – The album starts off with a pretty dope instrumental before Mustafa chimes in to introduce the crew and their collective mission to bring you reality per Allah (and for you to see your past, present, and future…and some stuff about seeing yourself face to face). Decent enough for an album intro.
Freedom Got A Shotgun – This one opens with some pretty epic horns before the drum beat drops and Mustafa comes in screaming at the instrumental like he caught it in bed with another rapper. The track is pretty aggressive, which is only appropriate since the theme of the song is to take your freedom by force. The problem is Mustafa sounds sloppy and as if he’s chasing the beat, and unfortunately for him the beat happens to be Usain Bolt. Wait, did he really just rhyme “shot” with “virus”? Regardless of the poor contribution from Mustafa, I can’t stress how sick the horns are on this instrumental.
United Snakes Of America – This is a shot out to all the corrupt branches/organizations that lead, serve, and protect this great country, past and present. Mustafa picks up where he left off on the previous track, yelling his sloppy rhymes over an instrumental he can’t keep pace with (and this time he manages to rhyme “savage” with “bondage”). I wasn’t feeling this one.
Universal Blues – The instrumental for this one is built around the theme music for 2001: A Space Odyssey. The track’s tempo is slowed down but unfortunately Mustafa doesn’t change his approach on the mic and come across overly aggressive (and sloppy) as he addresses the world’s environmental issues, before going into a full fledge sermon on why the white man is a savage and how irresponsible he has been with Mother earth and her resources. I don’t know about you but I’ve seen hella brothers shit on the environment as well.
KK Punanni – This is another Public Service Announcement with a pretty interesting song title. “KK” referring to the Klu Klux (as in the Klan), and “Punanni”, I think you’re all smart enough to figure that out. The song’s premise is built around a conspiracy theory that the white man has designed a plan to infect and kill off the black race with stds. I believe there may be some truth to this theory, but if I see and recognize you’ve laid a trap specifically set to snare me and I still choose to walk into it, some of the blame has to fall on me. My people, we have to take responsibility for our actions (stepping of my soapbox). Mustafa’s story about a dude sleeping with a chick who happens to have syphilis, gonorrhea, herpes, and AIDS (when it rains it pours, I guess) was pretty comical, in a how the hell does one human being contract that many stds at the same time and manage to continue to breath, yet alone desire to continue to sex, kind of way. What is even more amusing is Mustafa explaining to the listener that contracting this combination of std’s can make your balls fall off (nice scare tactic, bro). Comedy aside, this song was pretty terrible.
I Deal With Mathematics – The title of this song is inspired by the 5 Precent theology of mathematics being the only universal law that is pure and cannot be altered or tampered with. After hearing Mustafa’s weak flow and King’s matching instrumental it may have been to the listener’s benefit if someone would have altered this one before it was released. I deal with reality, and this was weak.
Radical – Mustafa is in battle mode, and fittingly his rhymes match King’s underwhelming instrumental, as he doesn’t even sound like he believes his own boasts. It sounds like Mustafa takes a shot at Rakim on this one, which might explain why Movement Ex was never heard from again after this album and Lord Mustafa changed his alias years later.
Zig Zag Zig – *Yawning*. I did wake up for a brief second when it sounded like Mustafa was going to pass out at the end of his second verse. Breath control, son.
Is My Mic On? – Unfortunately.
The Lord Speaks his Mind – King slows down the pace and provides a smooth instrumental that I actually enjoyed (specifically the break used during the hook). Mustafa follows suit this time, as he calms down his delivery to match the instrumental. Unfortunately, even when he’s not yelling he still comes off rushed and sloppy.
Rap Mafia – Did Mustafa really just imply that Movement Ex’s impact on the upliftment of African-Americans is on the same level as Martin and Malcolm’s? Negro, please. You wouldn’t be qualified to carry either of their bible or koran.
Knowledge This – More sloppy battle rhymes over a garbage instrumental. Next…
King Goes Solo – Just as the title suggest, King gets to show his skills on the ones and two’s, while breaking up the monotony of Movement Ex to this point. Thank you.
Get Up Off The Pipe – Another PSA. This one is about the harmful effects of crack, I think. Mustafa actually uses this on to speak on everything from prostitution to H.W. Bush being the reincarnation of Regan. Kudos to Mustafa for acknowledging that blacks are at least partially responsible for the state that we’re in now. This song is so terrible I’m sure Allah is shaking his head in disappointment.
The Musical – Apparently Mustafa and King had a vision to combine “classical music with the funky drums of hip-hop”, which does make for a pretty decent instrumental for this one. King even steps from behind the boards to spit a verse, which makes me wonder what the album would have sound like had he and Mustafa split more of the microphone duties. King is not a great emcee or anything, but it would have at least broken up the monotony of Mustafa’s underwhelming contributions.
Comin’ At Ya – This one starts out with a sick horn sample that builds the anticipation that this is going to be a banger, then suddenly the air is let out of the balloon when the Bill Withers’ “Who Is He?” sample drops. I’m not saying the “Who Is He?” sample doesn’t work, but it’s kind of like being told you’re going to meet Beyoncé for a lunch date, only to have Solange show up in her place. Mustafa saves his sloppiest performance for last, making ridonkulous claims like he’s such a threat to the U.S. that he’s “ a major issue discussed by the Senate”. Negro please, they don’t even discuss you at hood barber shops.
Epilogue – This Movement Is Ex Rated – This is the outro that uses the same instrumental as the intro, which Mustafa uses to proclaim to have given you “life in all its perspectives on a piece of wax”. Really? Either someone switched the original songs and replaced it with this hot mess or Mustafa is downright crazy. Either way, this record does not support his claim.
I don’t mind music with a message. Matter of fact, I love music that has a message. But if that message has any chance of getting through to the listener it has to be entertaining and done skillfully, and Movement Ex lacks both of these attributes. I did enjoy a few of King’s instrumentals but Mustafa sounds terrible on the mic, lacking charisma, breath control, clarity, and at times he just sounds downright sloppy. When you couple the shortcomings of Movement Ex with its ridiculous length (its 17 songs long!) you have a hot mess on your hands, and strong evidence to why they dropped off the face of the hip-hop earth after this one.