In the late 90′s Swizz Beatz was on top of the world! Though hated by purists who found his keyboard beats too simplistic, the streets loved Swizz and was no denying his hit making ability. After all, his production spearheaded the Ruff Ryders (DMX, Eve, Lox, and Drag On) ascent up the hip-hop power rankings and at the same time he was crafting smashes for Jay-Z, Noreaga, Cam’ron, Marilyn Manson and many others.
It been a minute though since Swizz had the game locked. And in that time more futuristic producers (The Neptunes) have came through and taken over both the streets and clubs. It’s not that Swizz was sleeping; he was busy setting up his Full Surface imprint and working on his debut release. This time around though, Swizz is pulling double duties, both behind the boards and on the mic (which he first previewed on the RR 2 Compilation and the On Any Given Day OST).
The album opens with an in-your-face introduction to Swizz Beatz spitting rhymes. No floss, no gloss, the title track “Ghetto Stories” is a serious look into his life. “Big Business” showcases a beat that is both eerie and mellow. Jadakiss doesn’t break his typical rhyme mold and Ron Isley’s crooning sounds more repetitive than ever. The remix featuring P. Diddy, Baby, Snoop Dogg, and TQ is equally as annoying, with only Philly new comer Cassidy shining. In fact, it’s tracks with Cassidy that save this album from being a total waste. “Salute Me (Remix)” has the young boy sharing mic time with Nas and Fat Jon. Swizz even manages to ruin that track though, “Top Billin” has to be one of the most sampled songs ever – so how someone can mess up sampling it is beyond comprehension. Eve pops up on “Island Spice” a cool Caribbean flavored track that would have sounded better if released four years ago. Recorded right before going to jail, “Shyne”, featuring Shyne and Mashonda might go down as one of Shyne Po’s best tracks, as he keeps it really real and lets you know how things went down that night. Ja Rule, Metallica and Swizz combine forces on “We Did It Again,” but I don’t know if they realize what they really “did” though. They created one of the worst songs of the year, which could easily and more appropriately be entitled “Music To Migraine By.”
Even with more appearances by LL Cool J, Lil Kim, Bounty Killer, Busta Rhymes, and others, there is nothing that can save this album. Compared to all the other wack emcees out there, Swizz almost achieves being tolerable. The rhymes are not the problem with this project, it’s the beats. He took too long to release this and would have sounded a lot better when some people were actually checking for him.
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