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31 May, 2005@12:00 am

Compilation; no rating given 

   Sway and King Tech, legendary hosts of the world-famous syndicated rap show The Wake Up Show, are taking it back to the basics. Their show has showcased a plethora of emerging talent like Eminem, Jay-Z, Nas and others, and has launched them into the limelight (Sway on MTV for example). So with all the bullshit plaguing hip-hop today, who better to know about focusing on lyrics and substance then these two? With the aptly titled Back 2 Basics, Sway & King Tech look to bring hip-hop where it was when their fledgling show began taking over the airwaves.

    Does Back 2 Basics achieve what it set out to do? Yes and no. At times the album showcases some remarkable moments, most notably the Common, Royce 5’9″ and Chino XL collaboration “Enough Beef” produced by DJ Premier. This match made in heaven is every bit of dope as it should be. With each emcee torching the track to blistering results, “Enough Beef” is almost worth the price of admission alone (unless you found this song floating on the net a few years ago). When Royce and Chino link up with a rejuvenated Canibus, the results are equally as pleasing. Backed by a thumping track provided by Kwame, this match made in heaven give a lesson in battle rhymes that would make any punchline enthusiast pass out in joy.

    What starts to seem awkward about this album though is the fact that Back 2 Basics seems to focus on three artists in general; Chino XL, Crooked I and Tracy Lane. Now Chino XL is easily understandable. With each verse layered with rewind punishing moments, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that Chino XL deserves to be recognized. But Crooked I and Tracy Lane aren’t so easy to understand. Crooked I has been mentioned in rhyme circles for some time now since his unity and departure with Death Row Records. For those who have heard Crooked before, the three tracks featured on Back 2 Basics serve him no justice. The lazy “I Love the Ghetto” is entirely too syrupy while “Watch What You Do” is flat out boring. It’s unfortunate because Crooked I does have dope material floating about and to hear this just doesn’t help his cause. Tracy Lane’s five guest spots on the album are just horrible. It seems as if he was forced to croon his way through tracks that weren’t made for him to begin with. It is an obvious attempt to put somebody on but this just isn’t gonna cut it.

    So sure there are novelty joints such as Juice’s “Ill Hip Hop” and DJ Revolution’s turntable rocking “High Fidelity” but with a bunch of sub par tracks Back 2 Basics basically misses the mark.

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