When Onyx came out of the gates in 1993, the group epitomized the Timberland-sporting, baggy pants, “Throw Ya Gunz Up” energy that everyone in New York was striving for. Das Efx was new, Run DMC was making its first comeback (while JMJ executive produced Bacdafucup), and New York was losing its popularity to the laid-back G-Funk of the West Coast.
In the midst of all of this four bald-headed rappers from Queens knew they couldn’t play the game of ’64 Impalas and Parliament samples, so they injected their urban frustrations into head-banging hip-hop that MTV couldn’t help but love. Unfortunately, none of the members of Onyx have really ever been able to repeat this.
On Decade, Sticky Fingaz relies on tried and true formulas that are unfortunately poorly executed. What made his initial success specifically interesting is that his scratchy voice was unique and caused him to become the “inspiration of a whole generation,” stealing the show every time on Onyx’s debut. While it is has never been proven that this statement is true, “Slam” was a cross-over smash and made him a small-time rap star (by today’s standards certainly). His manic nature translated well to record with Onyx’s hardcore anthems, but now ten years later, he has regressed to Casio-style beats and a weak production squad.
“I Love Da Streets” is a cookie-cutter G-anthem paying homage to the hood; “Bad Guy” is the story of Sticky as a young’n hustling for the material goods that make him satisfied, complete with the regretful tone and a hokey male R&B singer trying to sound too much like Jaheim on the hook; and “Let’s Do It” is an aimless track with production that sounds like a throwaway Swizz Beatz/Roger Troutman collaboration.
The negatives far outweigh the positives, but a few tracks work well and prove that with better producers (meaning not Sticky himself behind the boards), this effort may have salvageable. “Do Da Dam Thing” is a Scott Storch gem that maximizes Sticky’s delivery and “Suicide Letter,” while obviously depressing, appears honest and visceral to say the least. Despite what one may think about the content, these tracks prove that Sticky does have talent when he chooses to turn it on.
After several failed comebacks by Onyx, and lukewarm reactions at best to his first – albeit highly slept on and creative – solo debut Black Trash: The Autobiography of Kirk Jones, Sticky seems lost when it comes to his music. Wavering between doing what everybody has done before and sticking (no pun intended) to what he is most effective at, Decade is hardly a celebration of ten years in the game. It is simply a reminder of what he once was.
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