Filed under: Albums,Brag Rap,Conservative Rap Coalition,Killa Queens,Not Your Average,Reviews,Steady Bootleggin'
Written by: Robbie Ettelson
J-Love and Meyhem are both dropping albums over the coming weeks, so I thought I’d see what they have cooked-up for us on Egotistical Maniac and Self-Induced Illness. It’s worth noting that both records are double albums, which is always something I’m in two minds about. On the one hand, the amount of songs you’re getting is great value and it allows you the luxury of choosing the best songs to load onto your ipod or whatever, but the other side of that is there’s an art to creating to a cohesive album and do I really want to listen to 40+ tracks from anybody in a row?
Egotistical Maniac follows in the footsteps of J-Love’s other releases such as Acknowledge Greatness in that it delivers dope beats, top-notch guests and a whole lotta J-Love rapping. The quality of J’s rhyming can vary depending on the tempo and the subject matter – when he’s on a beat that suits his flow and he’s ragging on herbs in his trademark arrogant manner, it works. But he lacks the versatility to tackle faster or really slow tracks as effectively, revealing that despite his commitment to the mic he’s a DJ/producer first and a rapper second. You can hear the contrast between the quality of the heart-felt ‘Still Standing’, which is easily the best solo thing I’ve heard from him, and ‘Playaz & Dymez’, which falls flat as he attempts a party type joint.
The real show here, however, is the quality of the tracks with features. Joints like ‘Fuck That Man Up’ with Sean Price, Willie The Kid and LA The Darkman, ‘Whippin’ Out My Lasso’ with Sadat X and Grand Daddy I.U., ‘Suffocated’ with Ghostface and ’em and ‘Trust Fund Children’ with Large Pro are just a few of the many outstanding moments to be found on this project. If J had combined these dope features with his four strongest solo shots and refined this project to sixteen tracks, it would have presented a far stronger argument for his brand of East-Coast Elitist rap. As it stands though, 43 songs just feels like hard work.
Meyhem Lauren follows-up the recent mixtape with his official debut, which is also far longer than it should be but remains the more consistent of the two. Tracks like ‘Guidance’, ‘Steak With A Glass of Red’, ‘Got The Recipe’ and ‘Classic Material’ deliver the goods as Meyhem’s gruff delivery blends with sharp beats for a satisfying dose of Queens Rap, while cameos are kept to a tasteful minimum outside of the Outdoorsmen crew. With a varied selection of tracks from PF Cuttin’, J-Love, Thorotracks, Domingo and more, Self-Induced Illness serves up a platter of traditional rap like it should be done.
Once again though, the main issue is the refusal to trim back the fat from the main course. Many of the older and previously leaked songs don’t add much to the package, as the new material is what we really want to hear when we cop an album. As with the J-Love record, Self-Induced Illness would have been a lot more cohesive and focused if it was restricted to the sixteen best songs, despite the majority of them being pretty good. Sometimes it’s what you don’t say that speaks the loudest.
Self-Induced Illness drops February 15.
Egotistical Maniac is out March 1st.
J-Love feat. Kool G Rap, Cormega and Roc Marciano – ‘Tricks of the Streets’
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