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12 May, 2003@12:00 am

Craig G is an emcee you can’t help but root for.  After all, as a member of the Juice Crew he and his brethren created a catalog of old-school classics; including one of the most crucial posse-cuts (“The Symphony”) to have ever been cued up on a pair of Technics. 

But that was then, and This Is Now, and after assembling a diverse team of aural assassins (DJ Premier, Alchemist, Rockwilder, Large Professor, Nottz, Beatminerz, and Marley Marl) and closing down the hallowed D&D recording studio, the man who once made his name “Droppin’ Science” emerges from the lab for the first time in over a decade with what he hopes will result in a Craig G renaissance. From the outset, Craig reemphasizes that battling is still his forte, asserting on a freestyle cut “You heard the battle rhymes that I wrote in 8 Mile/I’ll crush you in that similar rap style” and captures the quintessential D&D sound with DJ Premier on “Ready, Set, Begin” where Primo’s crisp snares smack your face incessantly like a Roy Jones jab.

While Craig does attempt to stretch his repertoire with This Is Now, these treks result in the occasional yawner, exemplified by the tepid “Damn This Day” an over ambitious club reach with Mr. Cheeks, “Now That’s What’s Up” and “Wrong Chick” where a muscular Alchemist track is wasted with a corny narrative.  Yet, when notions of mass appeal are eschewed, This Is Now takes off running.  Labelmate Krumb Snatcha joins Craig to roast Da Beatminerz’s spacey chirps on “Make You Say Yes” and a pair of stellar throwback efforts with Queens’s vets Large Professor (“Love Is Love”) and Marley Marl (“Let’s Get Up”) which transports you back to the days of Latin Quarters.

Craig G has already woven his thread into hip-hop’s fabric with an uncanny ability to spontaneously shoot the gift.  But he’s still fighting an uphill battle to dispel the theory that freestylers cannot make proper studio LP’s.  Yet, with This Is Now Craig may finally break popular perception.  Battle?  Craig G would love too! 

  Mixtape D.L.
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