After being dissed over ten years ago on a classic hip-hop record by the god of hip-hop (see Boogie Down Productions’s “Still Number One”, circa 1988) with virtually no leg to stand on, one would think that Screwball’s Poet would have hung up his mic for good. One might think that by now, the Screwball crew would have given up, after trying to put records out independently for over five years, with the closest thing they’ve had to a big break was a Tommy Boy deal that went sour.
Enter Loyalty - Screwball’s second album, and also a testament to how true this crew is to the rap game. With very minimal commercial success, Screwball still demands respect in the streets and in the industry, thanks the endless amount of dues they have paid, with virtually every rapper to ever come out of Queensbridge from Kool G Rap to Nas has represented on a Screwball track. Much like their Brooklyn counterparts, M.O.P., (with whom they share the album’s lead single “Torture” ), Screwball remains a crew of underrated and hungry street rappers who seemingly will never put their mics down.
Extremely well produced, with the likes of Ayatollah, The Beatnuts, Ghetto Pros, and longtime collaborator Mike Heron behind the boards, Screwball’s Loyalty is a collection of QB street anthems that take you to the heart of The Bridge. While it’s no secret that collectively, Screwball are pretty much a run-of-the-mill group of emcees, the sheer amount of heart that they put into their delivery shines through each track. The fundamentals of the Screwball way are defined throughout the course of the album, on tracks like “Live and Let Die”,”Street Love”, and the title track, “Loyalty”, (feat. Cormega), touching upon the on-again-off-again beefs with Nas.
Loaded with guests, tracks shared with artists like Nature, (“Where You At?” ) Black Attack, (“I Spit”), Kool G. Rap and N.O.R.E. (“Gorillas”) help break up the monotony of Screwball’s simple, yet street-smart lyrics. With the exception of one gimmicky track, the R&B tinged get crunk anthem,”Gotta Believe”, Loyalty is a well-executed, consistent sophomore release for Screwball, with equal amounts of great production, street knowledge, and an undying love for their hood.
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