Hellish Made Clique's song "Friends and Foes," a boisterous rap number that cites Shakespeare in its refrain, was downloaded enough times to register the local rap group within the Top 10 on an MP3 chart that appeared in a recent issue of Rolling Stone magazine. Undoubtedly inspired by registering two notches above an Eminem song and being ranked with the likes of Coal Chamber and Powerman 5000, HMC's Canis -- a rapper who also records as Da Don Kanevil -- has released his first solo album, My Life in Exchange for Yours, on the local label run by Landry M. Simmons Jr.
Unlike the sparsely produced D.I. Revelations: When Hell Freezes, the Hellish Made Clique album on which "Friends and Foes" can be found, most of the material here is well-produced. With aspirations of evoking something similar to the RZA's production work with the Wu-Tang Clan, My Life uses samples that bring texture rather than bounce to the music. The piano samples in "Pinchers, Pitts & Rocks," a track that features cameos by rappers Latola and Prodias, and the sampled strings in "Friends and Foes, Vol. 2" have an ominous tone that's a credit to the production work. Too often, however, Canis -- whose real name is Reggie Huei -- resorts to the kind of machismo and bragging that's typical of most traditional gangsta rap. "We in it for the money/Fuck the dreaming," he boasts with rapper 5th Colum in "Belly of the Beast." Even "Koss," the spoken-word intro on which Canis drops lines such as "I can call you bitches in the background," "you hoes stay down," and "niggas feed your mind," all the while promoting "the study of rhymes," has a contradictory and confused message at its core.