In 2007, Kanye hyped and delivered Graduation, Jay-Z surprised and blew up with American Gangster, and Freeway came back after four years with Free At Last. So far, it’s been a fine year for the Roc, the best since their early millennium highlights, and now Beanie Sigel has capped the year with his new album The Solution.
With his new album, Beanie is back on the scene after being released from prison, and questions about whether or not he’d even be with the Roc upon his return. It’s good to have him back, and he holds his own compared to the other standout releases on Roc-a-fella. While, Beanie never quite has a “Roc Boys” or
“The Good Life” club hit, but instead a cohesive album that holds together well.
It all starts with “All of the Above”, featuring R Kelly, which is a phenomenal beat and some intense heat dropped by Beanie Sigel, but it all falls off once R Kelly starts singing. There’s no better way to kill a gangster vibe than with an R Kelly falsetto. Let’s face, Akon and T-Pain have knocked Kelly off his “king of R&B” gluepot throne.
Beanie comes back with more fire on “You Ain’t Ready For Me”, with a guest shot from Styles P. This song was made for going into battle. A steady drum roll and deep bass beat make this one of the albums best songs. He follows it up with “Rock City”, another song that could definitely be a feature in the clubs, despite it’s cold beat. It’s sparse, but the vocals of the song keep this from being the completely icy street track that it sounds like it might be, before they kick in.
On “Gutted”, Beanie Sigel and Jay-Z make a track that would have been perfect on American Gangster, perhaps even better than “Ignorant Shit”. Meanwhile, “Pass the Patron” is a great way to get an endorsement, with a solid beat, but the guests are a little too much. It’s a song that’s good but should have been better.
Venturing out a bit, Beanie uses both Ozzy Osbourne and James Blunt samples on “Judgment Day” and “Dear Self”, but neither live up to what they’re aping. Both Lil’ Jon and Busta Rhymes have done this already, and while “Judgment Day” does a good job of making Ozzy sound almost funky, it just seems unnecessary and cliché, as more artists try to jump on the deflated hip-hop/rock bandwagon.
While the album hits some slow spots in the middle, it both starts and finishes on a high note. On “Rain”, Beanie Sigel paints a great picture, as Raheem Vaughn lays down some great vocals to really give the song some shine, while Scarface lends a great hand with his Southern soul that he’s so good at. Beanie closes out the album with “Prayer”, again utilizing Raheem Vaughn on guest vocals. While it doesn’t quite hit the highs of “Rain”, it really does a great job of summing up the sad and regrettable nature of the LP. Since September, The Roc has once again regained it’s place as one of the most dominant labels in hip hop, with The Solution working as a solid end for the year. – Dane Johnson
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