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1 January, 2000@12:00 am

 Even though Sauce Money is most notorious for turning the art of ghostwriting into a lucrative, and highly-compensated occupation by penning Puff Daddy’s haunting, and Grammy-award winning tribute to Notorious B.I.G., “I’ll Be Missing You”, he is no new jack to hip-hop heads. While the ramifications of that landmark single garnished him widespread recognition, this emcee from the infamous Marcy projects had already begun to solidify his stature in underground hip-hop circles, by his sporadic appearances on DJ Clue tapes, Jay-Z’s first two LP’s, and the blazing DJ Premier produced “Against The Grain” from the Soul In The Hole soundtrack. While a few label changes, and several delays has prolonged the wait for Sauce’s debut, Middle Finger U, his verbal flair is finally anonymous no more.

Sauce does not attempt to recreate the wheel with his debut, as it is a loose unregimented project that contains little in the form of concept. Yet, what holds this LP together is Sauce’s gift of gab. Though Sauce’s monosyllabic flow rarely varies, his slick street bravado is engaging enough to carry the lethargic production of EZ Elpee on “What We Do” feat. Memphis Bleek, and Clark Kent’s uninspired attempt at updating “Face Off 2000″ feat. Jay-Z. While formulaic cuts like “Chart Climbing” and the Rocky sampled “For My Hustlaz” relay Sauce’s new “cut a check, or suck a dick” motto for the 2G, his motto is not nearly as disturbing as Puffy’s verses on “Do You See”.

Sauce finds his niche, and is most pressing over the up-tempo grooves “Love & War”, and the power chords of Marley Marl’s “What’s That, Fuck That”. However, the LP’s true gems lays in Sauce’s too infrequent trips to the basement, “Say Unkle”, and “What’s My Name” where he laments “you just passing gas nigga, I’m the shit”. Sauce and DJ Premier reunite on “Intruder Alert”, and although Primo serves up a relatively frail track by his standards, it still works. While Sauce decided not to sign with Jay-Z’s fledgling Roc-A-Fella empire, his ties with Jay remain deep, evidenced by the Jigga man’s numerous cameo’s; none more impressive then the previously released “Pregame” where Jayhovah spits nothing but heat; “no kids, 6 cars, 3 rolies, and 2 kribs, trips to Cuba sipping the uba, got rap in a stupor, first too clap your group up, from the range with the ski rack, or 6 with the roof up, shit, I light the motherfucking soundproof booth up”.

With Middle Finger U Sauce Money proves that he is more then just a complimentary emcee. Yet, it is indecisiveness that ends up being Sauce’s undoing, as he never really establishes a direction with his debut. While Sauce’s witty, punchline style, and likeable personality have star-potential written all over them, it now rests all on Sauce’s broad shoulders to live up to that potential.

  Mixtape D.L.
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