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20 July, 2006@12:00 am

   Boot Camp Clik has always been a truly underground super group.  They’ve garnered a cult following with their uncompromising, gritty-as-gravel sound since the mid-90s, and a decade later they’re still sticking to their guns.  As hip-hop rapidly changes its flavor of choice from year-to-year, BCC keeps it true with that “gutter-gully-gangsta” music. The group’s latest effort, The Last Stand, will sound familiar to those who have followed the group for some time now.  For those who haven’t, the best word to describe their sound is “raw”.  Dark, stripped down beats and hardcore-yet-inventive rhymes are the group’s M.O.  That’s what made The Chosen Few a critical darling back in 2002 when everyone was still recovering from the devastation left behind by the Shiny Suit Era. 

   The Last Stand differs from The Chosen Few in a few areas.  While still dark in vibe, the production is a little more polished this time around, due to a substantial presence of 9th Wonder on the album.  Some fans will oppose this new direction since it isn’t quite as edgy as they’re used to, while others will find the new style refreshing.  Again, 9th still manages to maintain the BCC street aura for the most part, he just puts a different spin on it.  In my opinion, while 9th’s stylings tend to blend well with Buckshot’s delivery (hence the well-received Chemistry collabo album), it doesn’t work quite as well with other members of the group, whose gruffness tend to get subdued by the smoother instrumentals.  The first track “Here We Go” is an example where the soundscape would be perfect for an LB’s joint, but just a tad too jazzy for a BCC album.

     The other main difference is the return of The Rockness Monsta.  As Rock detailed in the interview, extenuating circumstances (translation: label drama) led to his noticeable absence from The Chosen Few.  But his return is much welcomed for the new album.  Anyone who’s ever heard Rock flow realizes he may be one of the most charismatic and imaginative emcees to ever touch the mic.  And it’s not just Rock; his HS partner Ruck aka Sean Price is hands-down the star of the album (“It looks like a job for Superman / Up-up-and-away, gun buck with the tray / Conversating, congregating / Got twelve disciples and they all got rifles” from “Let’s Go”).

     The good tracks definitely out-number the bad ones here, and even those iffy ones are arguable.  Tracks 3-5 prove to be the strength of the album (“What You See”, “So Focused”, “Don’t You Cross The Line”) and are produced by Pete Rock, 9th Wonder, and Sic Beats, respectively (now that’s a beat team!).  And I can’t forget the hard-hitting “Trading Places” and the superb “World Wide BCC”. Boot Camp’s latest will be a welcome addition to any BCC fan’s collection.  The proven vets come through and hold their ground in The Last Stand.  The battle continues.

  Mixtape D.L.
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