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 The danger of reviewing any commercially oriented rap artist is that you walk a thin line between played out cliches. On one hand, it is so standard to diss rappers for coming out flossy that many critics slam the content without even checking the music, content, or flows. On the other hand, it is so standard for rappers to come out flossy on records that it really should be discouraged for the sake of creativity. Nobody wants to hear the same thing on every record.

It’s hard to accuse Lil’ Cease of being anything other than he is. Even before jiggy rap became cliche, he was jiggy. Lil’ Cease probably suffers more from bad timing than a bad record. This record is superficial, but judged on the basis of “make you dance” music it’s better than the average. This is the kind of album you could throw on in the background at a party and leave running from start to finish while people dance. Repackaging beaten to death classics like “Trans-Europe Express”, “Super Hoe”, and “Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now” into millenium music for the clubs. Sometimes, that’s all you want.

If anything (else) about this album is tiresome, it’s how Puff Daddy and Lil’ Cease constantly pay homage to the memory of the late great Christopher Wallace (Notorious B.I.G.) One gets the feeling his guardian angel must be standing over their shoulders with a spiked bat, threatening to bash the heads of anyone who refuses to pay tribute. The best tributes are always unstated, such as Busta Rhymes invoking lyrics from “Warning” on the song “More Dangerous”. For Puffy to say B.I.G. lives through him after he won a six figure bidding war to sign Shyne is automatically suspect. Save it, and let the rappers rap. Stop beating us over the head with your guilty conscience. It wouldn’t need mentioning if Puff himself would SHUT UP – he says “B.I.G. forever” on damn near every track he’s on.

The best songs on the album, unsurprisingly, are the ones with cameo guest appearances. Redman turns “Future Sport” into the album’s most grimy cut, “Play Around” teases us with a taste of Lil Kim, and Jay-Z does his thing as u-sual on “4 My Niggaz”. Even “Need a Lady” with Puffy does what Bad Boy does best: smooth R&B with hardcore vocals. The tightly polished R&B groove sounds like a cross between Whodini and Cameo. This would make a great choice for the second single. “Girlfriend” with Ma$e is in the same vein, but less tolerable due to the retard’s mic time.

Ultimately, this album is what it is. It’s nothing that will turn heads with Cease’s mind-blowing lyricism or stop cats in their tracks with next level beats – it’s just some have fun and shake yo’ ass shit. And judged on that basis, it’s preferable to Mase, Puffy, Foxy Brown, or Black Rob. The beats are better, and Cease kicks his ish competently.

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