Tha Blaqprint is one of those albums that you really want to love. Blaq Poet, an underground staple to some and a fresh face to others, is an emcee capable of holding your interest even as he spits that grimy street-talk we have all heard before. And complementing Blaq’s tenacity is none other than DJ Premier. Yes, that DJ Premier. On paper and based off his past work, one would think that no one could be better suited for this project than Premo. But on Tha Blaqprint, for which he produced 13 of the 15 tracks, Premo’s production sounds dated and recycled.
It’s a shame, too, because Tha Blaqprint gets off to a promising start with “I-Gititin”, “U Phucc’d Up”, “Ain’t Nuttin Changed”, and “What’s the Deal?”. Across those tracks, Blaq spits grimy street-talk that might not inspire, but it certainly holds your attention. And Premo showcases some of his old tricks, especially on “Ain’t Nuttin Changed”, which offers a blend of a guitar-lick and strings with those signature boom-bap drums and scratched-up hook.
But everything begins to unravel as tracks like “Hood Crazy” and “Sichuwayshunz” play, both decent songs on any other record. On here, though, they are more of the same. And mostly to blame is Premo, whose repetitive and paint-by-numbers beats cause the album to hit a wall of sorts. It’s at this point when the The Blaqprint ends up a lot like listening to a Gang Starr album with all the nostalgia removed. Premier might have been at the top of his game during that era and many of his beats were nothing short of stellar. But Guru, on the other hand, was not always the most competent emcee. And his monotone delivery, though a worthy trademark, made his rhymes tedious on some tracks. This time around, though, it’s the production that fails to grab you. Blaq and Premo could have easily removed three or four tracks from here truly had something special, if not more enjoyable. Instead, you have a record with a strong first-half and a spotty ending.