There are many reasons to love this album by New York rapper Triple Seis. Here, we list those reasons. There will also be occasional asides to explain where the record falls down, but they all pretty much add up to this: Triple Seis is much more interesting when he talks about his feelings than when he’s being a generic thug. Okay, on with the show.
1. It is great to hear a good old-fashioned dis track, especially when it’s about Fat Joe.
Because who thinks of Fat Joe as someone to be dissed? He’s pretty much just there, right, a genial large presence who is vaguely threatening but also cuddly? Well, according to Triple Seis, who co-founded Ruff & Rugged with Fat Joe and Cuban Link and then quit Terror Squad after Pun died because he knew no one else had his back, Fat Joe (or whoever it is he’s rapping to in “Harsh Reality” but come on it’s not that hard) is a lazy drunken backstabber who uses people and doesn’t even pay child support on time. Seis hates Joe so much that he even brings Big Pun back from the dead, Nat King Cole-style (or Biggie- and Pac-style, I guess), to rep from beyond. Hopefully this will not escalate into a death feud, but the track is entertaining enough, with its long chorus and its nakedly emotional content: “I’m searchin’ and I’m hurtin’ off the memories / I keep workin’ while you’re swerkin’ off the Hennessey”. I don’t want anyone to get shot, but I miss the old Kool Moe Dee/L.L. stuff, and this is serious smack Seis is talking. Plus I’m still creeped out by how little chemistry Fat Joe had in that Thalia track, especially in the video, where it became clear that she just couldn’t stand to be around him.
2. It is great to hear a guest shot by Ice T.
Because what the hell, who knew this old gym teacher still knew how to rap? Over a shiny Reef beat, Seis and T forge a new NY-LA alliance full of talk about “real OGs” and rhyme “it’s all good” with “it’s all wood”, which is only meet and just. Nice also that Seis let T go first, much respect there, and he acquits himself nobly on the track, especially on his second verse where he threatens to chainsaw us and our women up and stow us in the trunk of the car before lighting it on fire. I wonder, then, if his character on CSI would come hunting for the killer only to find out that it was he himself! Oh snap, Oedipus T, you played yourself on some Alain Robbe-Grillet shizz! Other guest spots to speak of: Cuban Link good on “Be About It” and “Drinks Up”; Beatnuts also on “Drinks Up”, which rides a Psycho Les sitar slow-ass beat into awesome oblivion, and a great Les verse about how he’s gonna jump over the top rope and “make you eat the whole turnbuckle”, which beats Cuban Link’s lines about how his freaky girlfriends are “addicted to pain”, but only barely.
3. Seis is an emotional guy.
He’s got a song about how his father kicked him out and how it still hurts all these years later, “Love Put Me”, and it’s really very out there emotionally. He’s got a song, “Time’ll Tell”, that rides a weepy 1970s Mayfield-influenced Rich Kid string-laden beat, drops mad sadness about building one’s house out of dreams, and explains that he sings “the songs of hatred / the type of shit you niggaz could relate to” because he’s just so disappointed by the world. He’s got a song about how drug dealers live dangerous lives, “Pray for Me”, and it’s predicably really gothic and predictably ties it into being a rapper and how a song can be misinterpreted and get you shot, but he actually makes you feel that danger. Plus he takes shots at critics who bug out about a random line or two, so I take back what I said about “Harsh Reality” being about Fat Joe. I don’t really know anything, maybe it’s about someone else. Probably, actually. Forget I said anything.
4. Club bangers which actually bang.
“Krazy” is maybe one of the ten best songs of the year; Veronica is all sexy crooning over Rob Maya’s new wave funky-ass beat, the chorus bites the hell out of “La Isla Bonita”, and Seis brags about how he lives alone, “just me and my dog and Nina Simone”, which puts him in the hall of fame as far as I’m concerned; I also love the mini-story about how he pulls a college girl but then has to send her “back to the books / she don’t know how to cook”, ace ace ace. We also get down to “La Shortie”, which is a mean-spirited little thing about an underage girl trying to work her way through the posse to Seis, but he’s having no part of it. Self Mills’ track combines flutes and steel drums, but neither really but both; mostly this is notable for the great Spanish interjections and the over-the-top pronunciation of the title as “La Chortie”, hilarious all the way. And if you really want to get down, there’s always the Just Blaze remix of “Skully”, a wonderful duet between 24K and Seis, except he doesn’t really show up all until the song is two minutes old, it’s all her and she’s hot: “Two Four’s the name, I like ‘em gully / Dimples, blue jeans, and a skully”. Mashonda’s cooing, the beat is thumping like if you took “Tipsy” (or, really, “Grindin’”, right?) and then sexed it up a bit.
5. The track “Hustler” is the best gangsta track of 2004.
The Evil Twins track is straight out of Steve Reich’s “Music for 18 Musicians” or something, constant vibraphone sixteenth-note pulse, so avant-garde that it’s real and vice versa; the chorus (with, I assume, the Twins theyselves doing an interweaving thing) soars with the most soulful delivery ever of the line “Nigga you a bitch”; new coinages like “middle-fingering” and “Bronx got my back”; Seis doing mad hard but still kinda lovable stuff like “Y’all niggaz ain’t about nothin’ / Why you stuntin’ like you still did it / Frontin’ like you’re still with it / Acting like you’re so committed when you know you gonna quit it”. I wouldn’t really say that “Scared Money” or “Take That” are much worse, but nothing is better than “Hustler” right now in my car, it’s so addictive it should be regulated by the FDA.
Um, I was gonna talk about how this maybe was less than perfect, wasn’t I? Damn, forgot how that could be. Oh yeah, more Seis emo revelations, less Seis saying stuff like other people say, like on “Godfather” where it’s all “was it really worth it” and stuff. Even here, he compares his mentor Big Pun to King Arthur and pledges his eternal fealty, while still dissing society and hataz. So yeah, this is a great record and I love it and it’s summer. Aw yeah.
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