23 June, 2007@12:00 am
Coming from Boston is rising star, Slaine, who delivers the second volume in his The White Man Is The Devil mixtape series. Slaine’s a Caucasian himself, but the “white man” that the title refers to is actually slang for cocaine (hence the album’s subtitle: Citizen Caine). Slaine first started turning heads as a member of Special Teamz, a trio that also included fellow Bostonites Edo G. and Jaysaun of The Kreators. With production from DJ Premier, the trio released a little heard 12inch single on Brick Records a year or so back. Slaine is also a member of the highly buzz worthy super group, La Coka Nostra, which finds him next to other tough white guys, such as Ill Bill, Everlast, DJ Lethal, and DJ Muggs. Seems like Slaine’s got all of the right people vouching for him, but does the mixtape stack up?
Unlike most “mixtapes”, Slaine’s latest doesn’t feature him rhyming over other people’s beats, and isn’t pressed on a lousy CD-R. Truthfully, Citizen Caine might be billed as a “mixtape”, but it’s more of a “pre-album” of sorts, as all of the material here is original. As far as style is concerned, Slaine’s got an impressive super-lyrical style about him, but with enough edge to it that it doesn’t get pigeonholed as “nerd rap”. Something like if Fat Joe was spitting Eminem’s lyrics. He carries a thick Boston accent – sort of like any character in The Departed – and it’s evident from the subject matter he speaks of that he’s a product of his environment. While the average rapper might rhyme from the perspective of a drug dealer, Slaine’s coming from the perspective of the drug user, providing a bittersweet look into his existence.
The production on Citizen Caine could easily be categorized as classic, East Coast, boom bap. While most of today’s New York and Tri-State Area rappers are trying to bring the east back by getting Lil’ Wayne on a hook (?), Slaine goes for the tried and true approach. Employing hard-hitting drums and rare samples, Slaine’s beats would make KRS-One proud; it’s no wonder that guys like DJ Muggs and DJ Premier have backed him. But don’t look for any big name producers here – the mixtape is handled by all small time crooks, with new producers like Edu Leedz, Germz, Matty Trump, and Nox Beats. Names not ringing any bells? Don’t worry about it, they do just fine.
The album begins with the dark intro track, “Cocaine & Blue Eyes”, which gives you a taste of what to expect on the mixtape, but he truly introduces himself on “Say I Was Slaine”. This up-tempo head-nodder combines rolling pianos, cinematic strings, and high pitched vocal samples, while Slaine effortlessly spits lyrical murder. Unique wordplay and a breathless flow, you’ll find plenty of gems like this, spit breathlessly all over the album: “As long as I’m alive I personify a lust for life, agony, and anger, danger, every time I touch the mic!”
“Jewelz Stupid” is another banger, fusing a 70′s soul sample for Slaine to get loose on, while the bouncy “Still East Coast” finds him examining his problems with hip-hop. “I ain’t with that get rich fast funny shit / fuck master P and that Cash Money click / I ain’t even hatin’ really, I never been jeally / but hip-hop to me has never ever been Nelly / I don’t get crunk, I just get drunk / You little pussy cats getting’ turned to some pet punks / I’m sellin’ the real out of a Lex trunk / come and step to me if you really want to get some!” Well said, Slaine.
The album also has it’s share of dope collaborations. La Coka Nostra comes together on a pair of DJ Lethal produced tracks, both of which show huge potential for the full-length LP. “Get Outta My Way” introduces the group, as each Slaine, Everlast, Ill Bill, and the rest introduces the collective over an apocalyptic track. “Fuck Tony Montana” is an interesting concept where Ill Bill introduces the philosophy: “Fuck Tony Montana / we kill kids / If he did / he’d still be alive / Al Pacino fucked up twice / Benny Blanco ain’t taking my life / I’ma end up on the beach, with my seed and my wife!” Meanwhile, Slaine’s Special Teamz brethren chime on “Race Riot”, which features him, Edo G and Jaysaun examining Boston’s racial tension.
Citizen Caine shows remarkable consistency and promise from this little known, little heard of Boston artist, and it’s only a matter of time before he gets the respect he deserves. Whether it’s thanks to the upcoming Special Teamz record on Duck Down, or La Coka Nostra’s inevitable invasion of the major label market, Slaine will soon be a household name among hardcore hip-hop fans, if not eventually the MTV audience.
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