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by Colin Finan
30 July, 2003@12:00 am
0 comments

There is a chance that any MC from Queensbridge could record himself going to the bathroom and a certain population of the hip-hop universe would still buy the album. Because of this, there is the tendency of some residents of this Long Island City neighborhood to take such actions, releasing, re-releasing and jumping on nearly effort that pegs itself a “Queensbridge” album.

On Tragedy Khadafi’s Thug Matrix II: The Fugitive, he is guilty of recycling material and adding goods that would make the package more attractive. But then again, who can blame him. Employing some of his most talented neighbors (Littles, Capone, Nas, Prodigy of Mobb Deep), as well as delivering impressive performances throughout, Tragedy is a schooled vet who know’s what he’s doing.

Collecting some of his best collaborations in recent memory on Thug Matrix II, the thoughtful former Intelligent Hoodlum is just that – a street poet who clearly understands how to deliver 16 bars without using hackneyed catchphrases. “The Wait” is a confession of his own anxiety and fears in this world, complete with a stunning description of a mother’s death not from the drugs in her system, but from the stress that brought her to that point. The cover of soft rock darling Paula Cole’s “I Don’t Want to Wait” on the hook was a risky move, but the subject matter makes it appropriate, quelling any fears of the song losing its sincerity. The track “911″ follows in the same vein, with sidekick V-12 and Tragedy flowing ever so easily over the dawdling track, “And the media wonder why I write such anger/ Imagine life as a lost soul/Cold, no guidance?.And me no love Bush/Despise bin Laden/Its like I’m caught in the middle between two fascists.”

However, while there is a definite emotion to the album, it is unclear as to what the overall goal of the project is. “Welcome to Q.B. City” is a prerequisite shoutout that uses the “Welcome to New York City” beat from Cam’ron’s Come Home With Me and the near rip-off of Notorious B.I.G.’s “Dead Wrong” on Syn’s “Dead Wrong Syn’s Debut” would be more appropriate in a mixtape format. In addition, nowhere on the nearly two-minute track does Tragedy appear. Apparently part of the Thug Matrix is to promote future Q.B. artists (see Jay-Z’s Dynasty: Roc La Familia for directions). Also questionable additions abound on Thug Matrix II: as the latter half of the LP includes songs that were released years ago. “T.O.N.Y” from Capone-N-Noreaga’s War Report appears as does an old DJ Clue mixtape inclusion (“Triborough’).

While the point to this effort is unclear, one thing that remains is that the music is still fresh. Numerous appearances out of left field will make some listeners stop in their tracks (yes, Mic Geronimo even makes a guest appearance), and some will listen closely for Tragedy’s voice without ever hearing it, but in the end the tracks are a lot better than what appears on projects that somehow become “Queensbridge” albums.

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