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-- Butta Parkay
SHYNE, Shyne, Bad Boy
Bad Boy can't catch a break. Just when you thought Puffy & Co. might be on the verge of a comeback with this heavily hyped cat's first offering, "Bad Boyz," featuring Barrington Levy, the rest of Shyne's self-titled debut falls fairly flat. Known by a voice that echoes that of the late, great Notorious B.I.G., no one is about to confuse this album with Ready To Die. That doesn't keep Shyne from drawing his own comparisons. Biting a Jigga lyric, Shyne twists it to serve his own purpose on "Whatcha Gonna Do?": "Who's the best MC -- Biggie, Jay-Z or Shyne?" While you can't dispute dropping Nas from that famous line, the album that follows that first track in no way suggests that Shyne should be put on that level. His lyrics and delivery can be tight, as evidenced on the first single and cuts like "The Life." Both complement his verbal style with innovative production, neither of which is consistent throughout the rest of the disc. Although Shyne, along with Black Rob, seem to give Bad Boy some hope for its future as a hip-hop label, the end still could be fast approaching. Click here to find out how to buy this album.
-- Butta Parkay
MYSTIKAL, Let's Get Ready, Jive -- Cvere
From horse hair braids to corn rows, from No Limit to Jive, it seems that Mystikal has made a few career changes for the better. Most people outside of New Orleans don't know that Let's Get Ready is Mystikal's fourth album in the last six years, and that he has come a long way since his debut album, Mind of Mystikal, on Big Boy Records. Opting not to reenlist with Master P and his No Limit Soldiers was probably a good idea for Mystikal and Let's Get Ready is proof of that. Mystikal comes out swingin' and smacks a home run with the second track, "Shake Ya Ass," or "Shake It Fast," depending on what version you buy. "Shake Ya Ass" could have ghetto booties shaking all winter long. "Shake Ya Ass" is a bit of a departure for Mystikal, who has seldom rapped about women in past albums, but it really works. I'm not sure who sings the falsetto hook on that cut, but rumor has it that it's Swizz Beats. The Neptunes, responsible for a couple of Noreaga's more popular hits, produce four songs on the album, including the hard-driving "Jump," the latin/R&B influenced "Been So Long," "Shake Ya Ass" and "Family," which is one huge toss up to Mystikal's entire family. Mystikal revisits the past in a few songs, like "Smoked Out," which is an updated version of "Still Smokin'" off of his first album, where he discusses the intricacies of puffing lye. "Murder III" is simply the third edition in a series of songs where Mystikal vents his anger towards the man who killed his sister before his first album came out. A few songs I really enjoy are "Come See About Me" featuring Da Brat and Petey Pablo and the southern funked-out "Big Truck Boys," which is arguably the best song on the disc. If you can handle Mystikal's powerful yet screechy flow, and enjoy the heavy southern-inspired production, you will want this album. I, myself was skeptikal that Mystikal could pull off a complete album, but Let's Get Ready has proven to be his biggest success. Click here to find out how to buy this album.
PHIFE DAWG, Ventilation: Da LP, Groove Attack -- Tamieka J. Mobley
For many "true" hip-hop heads, the split-up of A Tribe Called Quest was a big letdown. With Q-Tip and Ali both pursuing new ventures, Phife was left to handle things on his own. I must be honest; the release of his long-awaited LP, Ventilation, was more of a disappointment than Tribe’s split-up. What's up with his transformation from Phife to Phife Dawg? His flow bites! Phife clearly has a lot of animosity toward Q-Tip and takes a shot at him every chance that he gets. I searched, but there wasn't a concept anywhere to be found. The only thing that Phife Dawg did right was naming the album Ventilation. It seems as if he was venting on every single track. Ventilation lacked diversity and originality. I thought that Phife would eventually redeem himself, but by the fourth track I was sick of listening to his "tired" flow. Even the "Chocolate Boy Wonder" couldn’t come to his rescue. What happened to the five footer? Phife used to be on point. His venting was pointless. Maybe if he saw a shrink once or twice a week he wouldn’t be so angry. He should've spent his time developing concepts and perfecting his flow. Click here to find out how to buy this album.
-- Tamieka J. Mobley
M.O.P., Warriorz, Loud -- Sam
Billy Danzini and Lil' Fame, two of hip-hop's livest MCs, teamed up with a load of producers on their latest release to do what they do best -- bang heads and mash out. M.O.P. have been holding their own for a while now, but although their lyrics may be some of the best for wildin' out, their record sales have been less than what was expected. But it doesn't seem to bother them, because they stay on the same ish that they came in with. This is evident on tracks like "Welcome To Brownsville" featuring Tephlon and "Face Off 2K1." What sets this album apart from the rest of their releases is the little adjustments that M.O.P. made so that they come off a lot louder and a lot more angry. Three tracks that showcase this are "Ante Up" featuring Funkmaster Flex (a little hint: fast forward through Flex, he just yells), "Calm Down," a jewel that comes through in the second half of the CD, and "G-Building," a 'throw your guns and your jewels'-type track. M.O.P. shows progression into the R&B world when they team up with the now "hardcore" Product G&B. Billy Danze and Lil' Fame will always be the underdogs of the rap game, but with this album hopefully they will break into the uncharted waters of platinum status. Click here to find out how to buy this album.
SADAT X, The State Of New York Vs. Derek Murphy, Loud -- Sam
On a six-track EP you really can't screw up, but it's almost become a requirement to have sleepers and fillers on every album. Sadat X falls into this category with two of the six songs on his latest offering. The EP opens up nice with "X-Man," a bouncy Diamond-produced track. Following up with "Low Maintenance," featuring a strange 'waah waah' sound, Sadat flows with his nasal delivery that goes well with the track. "Ka-Ching," featuring Hy Tymes, is one of those sleepers I mentioned earlier. "Cock It Back" explains Sadat's obsession to busting his guns. It is exactly what you want to hear from Sadat: "I want that new money, tight bit jew money/ Mazel tov I can't take any more so you n----- better knock it off." The EP is broken up by the appearances of Hy Tymes because they screw up another song, "If (It Ain't About Paper)." At least Sadat ends the EP on a good note: "You Can't Deny" leaves you with a general good feeling. This EP does open new doors for Sadat and will leave you craving for an LP. Click here to find out how to buy this album.
MACK 10, The Paper Route, Priority -- J Rough
The Paper Route doesn't rely on as many guests as his last album, The Recipe, but Mack 10 still passes the mic an awful lot. "Nobody" features Ice Cube and W.C. as well as production and vocals by Timbaland. "Tight To Def" features Mack's new wife T-Boz on the hook. "Pop X" buries an Xzibit guest spot on a tight track with Techniec, Caviar, Skoop Delania and Pinky, while "Pimp Or Die" features Techniec and Too Short, "Spousal Abuse" features Techniec and Kokane, "For Sale" features Techniec, Youngbloodz and Big Gipp, and "Tha Weekend" features Techniec and Ice Cube. Notice a trend? No disrespect to Techniec, who holds his own, but his five-track cameo will do as much to launch his career as Ice Cube's War & Peace Vol. 1 did for Mr. Short Khop and Method Man's Tical 2000: Judgement Day did for Streetlife. In other words, nothing. The Paper Route is really just typical Mack 10, who seemed groundbreaking with a debut album that sounded like vintage Ice Cube-era hardcore hip-hop, but now almost has become a run-of-the-mill West Coast MC. Good luck with the family, though. Click here to find out how to buy this album.
-- J Rough
BUSTA RHYMES, Anarchy, Elektra -- J Rough
It's 2000 and we're still here, so what's a doomsday prophet like Busta Rhymes to do? "There's only five years left," he proclaimed in 1996 on his debut solo album, The Coming, and he proceeded to predict it on his albums in 1997 and 1998. So as the countdown hits zero, what do we have? Well, apparently we have Anarchy, an album introduced with snippets of the year's news coverage, references to 'a planet in total disarray' and an inside cover that shows an apparent nuclear winter in New York, complete with one of the World Trade Center towers broken in half and crashing into the other. The Broadway musical treatment of the first single, "Get Out," has been done before -- and done better (see Jay-Z... twice). A different theme emerges on the first track: Busta sings the hook on "Salute Da Gods!" and "Enjoy Da Ride," where half the track Busta sounds like he's imitating a spoiled little kid that just stole your favorite toy. It's more of the same on "We Put It Down For Y'all," which features uninspired production by Swizz Beats and the title track, which has Busta flexing a sing-songy style on the verses. Surprisingly, this album is the rare case where the best tracks are those that feature guest appearances: Raekwon and Ghostface Killah on "The Heist," M.O.P. on "Ready for War" and DMX and Jay-Z on "Why We Die." Janet Jackson fails to make a return, but Busta once again goes outside the genre to grab a collaborator. This time it's Lenny Kravitz, who pairs with Busta for "Make Noise," creatively produced by Rockwilder. Despite its strong points, you come away from this album with a feeling of apathy, and for a personality as engaging and excitable as Busta, that's a bad thing. Click here to find out how to buy this album.
-- J Rough
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All contents ©1994-2000 The 411 Online