Chris Lowe has been in the game for 15 years and is praised for his production during the late 80′s and early 90′s. His work with Stezo and EPMD gave him the moniker, the “break beat king.” Stepping into the forefront, he dropped Black Life in 2004 which featured everyone from Carl Thomas to Sadat X. Now in 2007, he returns with Black Life II: The Next Thing Smokin’; this time with no assistance in the booth or on the boards. Regrettably, this album is weighed down with weak rhymes and an outdated flow which eventually bores the listener.
First off, there are some duds. “Chick On Da Side” is a failed attempt to make a club record. The corny hook and cheesy “I’ll blow your back out” lines makes it very difficult to envision anyone enjoying it at a party. It’s evident that Chris had no one help him because there is no variation of creative input. Too many of the choruses have the same repetitive formula. The aforementioned “Chick On Da Side”, “Back to Back” and “Wild Thing” are prime examples of this.
There is no question that his rhyme patterns are more suited for 1987 than 2007. The problem is that he sounds more “old” than “classic”. He reminds you of that old guy at the YMCA wanting to play ball with the young guys. At first he’ll hit a few jump hooks and set shots, but after a few times up and down the court, he’ll be trying to catch his breath and eventually end up on the side watching. Bottom line, Chris Lowe isn’t a strong lyricist and trying to make the producer/rapper crossover is difficult. His rhymes are way too simple and lack versatility (he says the same thing, the same way). It’s truly a case of someone not knowing is artistic limitations.
This album’s strongest attribute is its beats; not surprising since Chris Lowe is an accomplished producer. And while his skill on the mic doesn’t quite blow you away, his content has much more depth than today’s artists and thankfully he doesn’t bother to bust guns or push weight for an entire album.
Black Life II: The Next Thing Smokin’ is worth a listen. Songs like “You In Love” and “Golden Era Great” will definitely have your head nodding. After that, the album is quite forgettable and probably won’t replace anything in your deck right now. And on those days when you’ll want to bring ’87 back, you would probably reach for your Paid In Full record and leave this one on the shelf.
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