Rasco has become a sort of an elder statesmen in hip-hop; he’s not much older than a lot of his contemporaries, but commands a regal-like demeanor when on track. He’s earned his stripes with presence. Various Blendz had joints, but it was the Soulfather’s voice that turned heads – enough to carry himself over a stellar debut and what has proved to be a fruitful career thus far. He evokes a response with Rakim-esque proportions, yet unlike his undoubtable influence, the Soulfather hasn’t been as capable in reinventing himself as The (other) R. The head-nodder is his forte, his specialty, but sometimes, regretfully, also the only trick up his sleeve.
Hostle Environment finds Rasco in usual flare with tracks like “Rockin It” and “The Jamm” making for exemplary joints. Solid, sturdy, durable and capable of the club, radio or walkman. Though the project gets weighed down with a handfull of interchangeable songs devoid of much innovation (more behind the boards than behind the mic). Perhaps the enlistment of different producers makes for the occasional yawns; trade the likes of Evidence, Kutmasta Kurt, and Fanatik (Time Waits For No Man alumni) for Protest, The Molemen and Roddy Rod, and soundscapes definitely alter. With no discredit towards the production roster, there are flames here and there (DJ Khalil makes good with “Sunshine” and “Thin Line” while The Molemen add their respected sizzle on a good portion of the LP) but overall, the standouts don’t stand too far out.
Conceptually, Ras proves surely capable with engaging joints like “Message In A Bottle” and “Sunshine (Ayanna)”, it’s just a shame there aren’t more. But then again, have we ever came to the Soulfather for stories? Naw, that’s the man we know to find when it’s time too pump something, time to spark up the party, time to shake up the environment a bit. He’s still in the game, swinging and hitting, maybe next time he’ll knock one out of the park again.
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