Fortunato – Unseen Armada [Review]
Toronto, ON – Originally published March 14, 2014 – Unseen Armada is the fourth and latest album by Fortunato. The album features production from Juno nominee Fresh Kils, Nock Nock, Beaatz and several other heavy hitters. A North American tour is in effect this year to support the album, making stops at CMW, NXNE, Indie Week and more.
If you want to chose sides you could argue that Fortunato missed the memo. It’s like he came to school with an LG flip phone while all the other kids were sporting the latest iPhone. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with this LG flip phone, it’s just that it’s outdated and everyone else is onto something new now. To put it simply, Unseen Armada is a solid, thorough performance, but it doesn’t present any new sounds or ideas for the listener. “I’m droppin’ napalm in my army fatigue and singing songs that make you wanna believe/ That there’s a better world with better emcees, but yo the industry’s still dumbin’ it down/ So fuck a major we ain’t changin’ our sound” This is exactly what the album is; stubborn, unfiltered hip-hop and nothing more. Or should we say “but nothing more?”
Fat snares and hard hitting bass create the ground work for Fortunato’s tenacious battle-rap flow. However these sounds are beginning to show their age. They sound recycled. We need something new. We want to be surprised. We want to say “Wow what the hell is that?” or “Oh my god, I’ve never heard anything like this.” It’s surprising that there are still so many emcees stuck in the late 90s/early 2000s who are trying to break through. Fortunato claims to not concern himself with a major label and as a result Unseen Armada sounds more like an homage than innovation. Fans who dig that raw, gritty MPC sound of New York beats will embrace the album, while the rest of the market will probably be thinking, “Why is Grandma still using a film camera?”
Fortunato is undoubtedly talented and possesses the resume of a top emcee. He’s clever, witty and his cadences cut through the beat like a man smashing through a brick wall. “Listen to me” his voice is saying. Well actually, more like “Fucking pay attention.” Peep the line from the albums opening track “Fall For It”: “Got your album pushed back, cause nobody’s listenin’/ Abort your mission instead of missin’ your son’s christenin’/ Couldn’t catch a fish in the middle of lake Michigan/ Bitch, you road kill, I throw you under the Michelins.” He’s got bars for days and his vocabulary is stimulating.
All but two of the eleven songs on Unseen Armada fall under the two minute mark which is rare and surprising at the same time. However this never seems to pose any problem as the album has a seamless flow to it. The vast majority of the subject matter is your standard “These-are-all-the-ways-I’m-going-to-lyrically-kill-you” type jargon we’re all familiar with and this is to be expected considering Fortunado’s history in the battling scene.
What it really comes down to is if you’re looking for good hip-hop, look no further. You’ll have this album on repeat. If you’re waiting for that new Slurpy flavour that hasn’t been released yet you wont find it here and you might relate to the line on track number two, thinking to yourself; “You zilch, nah nothin’, no comprende/ Sore losers better get their Bengay.”
Unseen Armada is available for download on iTunes.
Written by Max Dishaw for HipHopCanada
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