Monday, September 26, 2005

Re-Up Gang : We got it for Cheap vol 2

Hiphop mixtapes have kind of gone down the toilet in the past 2 years. After an explosion of untold proportions in 2002 when everybody from Def Jux to Talib Kweli had one, the trend has died down as the market got flooded, or as Cam’ron would say: Even your Grandma has a mixtape, sellin that shit like Nana’s tape. Harsh but true. Of course Cam’s diplomats continue to move mix cds like nobodies business in conjunction with major-minor label compilations and the other 02’ pioneers G-Unit continue to drop low level product to latch on to their remaining street cred but really there’s not much else to be excited about that can’t be found online for free and without annoying DJ drops.

Despite this bootleg market saturation, The Clipse and their Re-Up Gang (themselves, Sandman, Liva and Pharell “Skateboard P” Williams) have been dropping the absolute best in street CD entertainment including this newest addition, volume 2. It’s not as if they have much of a choice considering they’re currently in court with their label and can’t release actual material, but that doesn’t take away the fact that their freestyles and remakes are better than most thug rappers’ albums. What separates The Clipse from the competition at first glance is their airtight beat selection: the jacks are the best beats of today with a few underappreciated classics: Put you on the game, Hate it or Love it, the Corner, I’m a hustler, Mic Check 1 2, Cobra, One Thing, Daytona 500 and Elevators. That’s a mighty fine selection and that doesn’t even count the funky Bad Boy era ones I can’t quite recognize. The selection is a little “warmer” and more organic than the almost entirely synth based Volume 1 but the addition of sampled material doesn’t really hurt and the CD is mixed and mastered to give it a unique, unified sound. In addition to remakes, the original Pharell produced material (whatever happened to Chad?) is just as powerful as it ever was with Zen and Ultimate Flow standing out. While he’s not as prominent on the beat tip as volume 1 where the Clipse went to town with some of his best outside production, he actually gets on the mic here and raps well. I mean, he’s not his idol Q-Tip but he’s a definite step up from Timbaland or Magoo. A line claiming that one’s label is the black pixar deserves props whomever spit it. As for the rest of the Re Up gang, The Clipse need no introduction and keep getting better, the looseness of mixtapes freeing them from the constraints of album concepts and other things that get in the way of their cocaine rap roots. Liva and Sandman are ok, but lets be honest: they’re not the reason anyone is going to pick this tape up.

With State Property pretty much gone for good, The Diplomats occupying their specific Harlem niche and D-Block unable to get solid production, it seems like The Clipse and company are the best crew out there for hardcore east coast flavored thug rap. Sure it’s not going to win over Kanye West fans but for anyone who’s still pissed that Mobb Deep and MOP joined Fiddy, this should keep you all happy until Hell Hath no Fury.


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