Assembling 50 of anything is no small task – just look at how long it took for the United States to bring together 50 states (that were already basically connected) or how some football teams struggle to bring together 50 players. But Cyrus tha Great (in tribute to Tony Touch and his two volumes of “50 Emcees” mixtapes) still tackles “50 Emcees 2004,” an eclectic mix of as diverse a crowd as possible under one roof. Unfortunately, 50 emcees together on one mixtape nowadays is like putting 50 politicians into a room and arguing over a topic like right-to-life or the war in Iraq – no one agrees, and so, there is no consistency or distinct sound from one track to the next.
Emcees featured on the beginning of the disc, specifically tracks created by Little Brother, F.T. (Fuc That), Byg Sev, and even Grafh seem poised to not only appear as one of the “50 emcees,” but also to grab a hold of the listeners and push themselves to the top of everyone’s “‘favorite track” list. As Ali Vegas raps, “Out of 50 emcees, 49 don’t want it with me,” the feeling of competition sweeps through “50 Emcees” like the fighting words of Muhammad Ali, begging for the other “competitors” to top the last freestyle. However, artists like the politically guided The Perceptionists (Mr. Lif and Akrobatik) on “Memorial Day” (“Where are the weapons of mass destruction? We been lookin’ for months and we ain’t found nothing”) or Royce Da 5’9″‘s “Dead or Alive” dead that competitive spirit with nothing more or less than the usual mixtape efforts (especially Royce’s, which, despite his usual captivating flow, was probably a throwaway from the days of “Death is Certain”).
Still, certain individuals do stand out for Cyrus tha Great offering him their finest freestyles laced with purely sweet and evil metaphors, similes, and clever plays-on-words that make for interesting snippets from many of the selected artists. Apathy spits about having more G’s than a Gucci factory, while Scram Jones (who knows a thing or two about producing himself) promises to bury you with the fishes “like Finding Nemo.” Additionally, many of the one or two minute spits work well because the underground has an established knowledge of where the artists come from and who they are (and in the same vein, others are easily skippable for the opposite reason).
If Cyrus tha Great takes anything away from “50 Emcees 2004″ though, it is his ability to create a wide variety and range of productions that vary from the Looney Tunes-ish “Blackout” (Jean Grae, Pumpkinhead, Black McCloud) to the ever-popular sped-up samples (Vegas track) to the downright old school drum patterns of GMP’s “You Don’t.” Gathering 50 of anything is no small task. And, although Cyrus tha Great manages to do just that, the stand-out tracks still manage to come from the well-known Royce’s and Grafh’s of the hip-hop spectrum, while much of the remainder of the disc is left in disarray. Filler is tolerable on regular full-length disc – but, at 44 tracks long, recommending the weed-whacker over the scissors here might help Cyrus tha Great to trim down an overloaded and top-heavy mixtape of too many MCs.
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