More bad mainstream rap, anyone?
This album came out a minute ago and so we can look at it without all the hype of Bean’s incarceration for weapons violation and the split between Jay-Z and Damon Dash confusing the issue. Beanie followed Dash, not Jay-Z, and with that a lot of hopes for this record were dashed. The critics went into their healing mode, promising that it wasn’t so bad after all. My colleague at Pitchforkmedia said, “The album’s producers weave a grand, sweeping tapestry to give Sigel’s lament the heft and majesty it deserves.” Ha ha ha! Sweeping tapestry. Yeah, right. No, I’m sorry. Majesty? Since when is majestic a good thing from anyone besides John Williams? Majestic gangsta rap, no less. I’ll tell you what this is. This is another insanely over-produced rap record for old people who still want gangsta but none of the loudness associated with it. Thanks to Jay-Z, who cuddled Beanie when it got cold and tossed him overboard when he split with Damon Dash, The B. Coming is a desperate attempt to maintain the loyalty of the Hova’s huge fanbase. This is gangsta-lite, or adult contemporary gangsta, or gangs—dad rap, or something like that. Anyways, Beanie Sigel’s record sounds like it cost a million-trillion-faffillion dollars to produce, you know what I mean? Great for suburban housewarming parties. Welcome to our new home, Beanie! Loved your last record, and don’t you look handsome on the cover. Help yourself to the aspic—it’s fresh! Come right in and make yourself comfortable, what’s your name? Freeway? Well, shucks, have some of that chips and dip, why don’t you? Aren’t you a nice fellow, Mr. Dogg, thanks for popping by. Mr. Killa Cam is over there in the corner talking to my wife Susan, who, I should mention, loves to eat skeet and spends all her money at Ikea.
Oh, who am I to complain? Who doesn’t prefer soul samples cranked up to Smurf and beats that sound like Phil Collins was brought in for drums (a la ba-doom doom of “In the Air Tonight”). No, it’s not ethical for me to say anything other than apart from a few guest rappers, I hate this album.
Produced by Heavy D, “Feel It in the Air” is a seraphic opening track, sultry and innocent and majestic, to the point that I have no idea what Sigel’s rapping about. I’m so completely seduced by the Raphael Ravencroft sample and the weaving and bobbing beat that I could care less if Sigel is rhyming for me the solution to world hunger. “I Can’t Go On This Way” is produced by Aqua, and is a bit more minimal, intended to highlight the straight-talking raps of Sigel and guests Freeway and Young Chris. The hackneyed soul sample sped-up in the background (can someone make it a law to STOP BITING SUPREME CLIENTELE??)... it’s the kind of bullshit rap McTossaway track that someone Rakim’s weight would just destroy. Ghostface on this track? This pitiable beat gets buried dead and pissed all over with Crystal urine. Beanie Sigel and Freeway do okay on top of this thing, too, but not really. In reality, Freeway sounds like he’s been eating public school lunches for too long and is having an impossible time trying to take a poop. Young Chris has some urethral problems. Meanwhile, Sigel goes:
With no union, and no benefits no dental plans
I can’t eat off no hundred grand
I got cavities that need fillin’
You can’t feed a nigga Peanut Chews
Now put ya feet up in a nigga’ shoes
A lack of green’ll give a nigga blues
A sip of purple make a nigga rule
Make a drunk person speak a sober tune
That’s a pretty cool, socially alert rap, if you ask me. That’s what I’m talking about. Whereas “One Shot Deal”, featuring Redman and produced by Bink!, is a doofus Rocky anthem track that has none of the true aggression of an LL or even a Lil’ Wyte track. The lyrics are fine, but the whole thing is buttered up so heavy with overdubs and compression and cymbal splashes that I start to dream about Beanie Sigel collaborating with Peter Gabriel. Why not? I’m sure he’s available. It’s not until Peedi Crack and Twista spit some major Godzilla all over “Gotta Have It” that I feel any sense that this album is more than just about another boring pop star with a microphone attached to his ear and a piano player on one side of the stage in a cloud of theatrical fog. Produced by Chad Hamilton, it’s still one phazer sequence too many. But this is obviously a new genre of rap music, and I’m not giving it enough credit. As part of a genre whose high point is perhaps Snoop’s Rhythm & Gangsta, and slapped into consciousness with Common’s Be, Beanie Sigel’s album slides in between these two classics. The Neptunes-produced “Don’t Stop” features the Dogg himself, and this is truly the weakest rap song on the planet. This thing is limp as a dead dandelion. Both rappers suck on this track and the Neptunes suck even harder. It sounds like Snoop and Beans paid people to write the words and other people (impersonators) to say them, and never even came to the studio the day it was recorded. If you like musicals you might enjoy “Bread & Butter”, a track inspired by a deceiving woman and Broadway dance-sequences. Finally on track fourteen (of fifteen!), Jay-Z makes an appearance (“It’s On” (no, it isn’t)) just so he can chorus:
Once again it’s on
Young run through you niggas, like a glitch in the computer nigga
I’m the shit I’mma sewer nigga, This is Jay everyday, no days off
Ferris Bueler nigga
There’s no glitches on this CD, unfortunately. It might give it some life. The highlight is “Purple Rain”, a tribute to the Houston love affair/addiction to cough syrup mixed with Codeine. The track features the inimitable Bun B. of Houston’s UGK, and his 16 bars kill this album dead.
Quoting Bun B:
Way back in ‘94, Bruce still had his gate up
he called over to his house and he poured me an 8’ up
I asked him what it was, he said Bun, get your weight up
this is lean, them white folks call it pearlmethozine
shit, but we goin’ call it drink dog, cause that’s what we be doin’ to it
now take this big red and pour about a 2’ into it
I said 2’s and 8’s, that the fuck is you trippin’ on
he said man thats an ounce of the cough syrup that you sippin’ on
so shit I poured it, I sipped it , then I tipped some mo’
I fired up a green monster, and I hit that ho’
started relaxin’, shit and to my surprise
I was noddin’ off, lookin’ at the back of my eyes
they tried to wake me up, but shit I just kept yawnin’
I fell out in my chair and woke up there the next mornin’
God bless my nigga, cause it’s then I been spawned
on my white muddy cup of Texas tea at all
After his verse, I’ve got nothing else good to say. Trade this album for UGK’s Dirty Money and forget you heard of Beanie Sigel and his worthless attempt at mainstream love.
// Notes from the Road
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