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It’s been 10 years since Catashtrophy dropped Rap Life and a lot has changed. No longer is the west coast a powerhouse in the music industry. The same can say for former Liks label, Loud Records, who has now been out of business nearly as long as it has taken for Tash to drop another solo. Out with the old and in with the new, Loud may no longer be with us but upstart Amalgam Digital is. Fueled by the digital revolution, Amalgam is still putting out good music at 1/3 of the cost, which allows artists like Tash to not give up creative freedom in an effort to sell units.  Hate it or love it, the digital media is here to stay.

Control Freek has Tash up to his same old tricks.  He’s still the wise cracking emcee with a pungent sense for weed and alcohol.  The album starts with “The Book Chapter 1” which is a reintroduction of sorts to the life and times of Rico Smith.  Did you know his mom worked for Al Greene?  Neither did we.  Not to abandon his roots, i.e. the West Coast or the Likwit Family, Tash enlists E-Swift for “Go West”.  Producer Josh G’s synth trenched production is fitting for the Liks.  Other notable guest appearances are Del’s on “Get It” and B-Real’s ode to the sticky icky on “How Hi Can U Get”.  Newcomer J Beam out does himself on the latter, with bass that would make DJ Magic Mike’s speakers pop.  J Beam’s production is dripping in west coast vibe, as Tash rips “Pull It Outcha Pocket” as well as the Alkoholik anthem “We Do This” assisted by King T, Knoc’Turnal (where the hell has he been?) and even J Beam himself on the mic.

“A Penny for Your Thoughts”, produced by Kurupt collaborator J Wells, is Tash at his best; something to ride to, while still saying something. Samuel Christian does his best Pharrell impression for the hook, which we could have done without.  “Closer” is another stand out joint produced by Emmaculate (same guy who worked with Juice?) lifting an interpretation of Whodini’s “Friends” for the Chorus.  What would a Tash album be without a call for some weed from the President?  Clinton gave Rico a call on “Rap Life” this time President Obama gives him a shout for the good green. Results? Hilarious.

The album is not without its faults “Wet Paint” enlisted the tired flow of Kokane over a lackluster E-Swift beat, while the sad attempt at southern bounce “Push the Button” missed the mark after a few listens.  The main issue with the album is the subject matter and lackluster production.  Though there is some shining moments the album fell short of expectations.  21 and Over, Coast II Coast, and Rap Life set such a high standard for non-gangsta west coast hip-hop in the mid-90’s, it’s going to be hard to top.  Control Freek won’t garner a new fan base, however nor will it turn off long time fans.  Let’s just hope this isn’t the last we hear from Tash or the Alkaholiks. - DG

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