The Queen reigns! Queen Latifah holds a formidable court on the first release from Ghettoworks Records. The Takeover royalty is corporate, featuring Queen Latifah as the CEO. She is surrounded by a variety of artists, all business and looking to dominate the world of hip-hop and R&B in Brooks Brother suits. Sha-Kim and Queen Latifah, along with Dedra N. Tate and Latee, are the executive producers.
The first two tracks hit hard from the beginning. Rowdy Rahz kicks off the compilation. “Nevah,” blows out with a sweet orchestral lead-in that soon turns into an intermittent background sound mixed with ethereal choir voices for a heavy beat that latches into you and makes you move. Channel Live, who came up with KRS-One a few years ago, follows up with “Wild Out 2K.” Their return is heralded by a smart Rocky-like horn sound. The symbols and drums are heavyweight and punch-steady, marked by a stuttered beat that flies like a butterfly and stings like a killer bee. Unfortunately, the song ends with a hysterical conversation between two women who are complaining about what’s going on in a club. It’s sort of out of place in an otherwise solid hip-hop track that comes out swinging.
However, no stereotypical females are featured in the central track, and that’s because it belongs to the Queen herself. Latifah’s “Drama 101” rocks the most, proudly declaring her dual success in the worlds of Hollywood and hip-hop. Her track starts with a reporter broadcasting Latifah’s latest CD release party, where Latifah is surrounded by reporters, fans, and player haters. Boys start the track and call out the triumphant identity of the Queen: “Latifah, motion pictures, six-digit figures, rap thriller.” Then Latifah comes in with references to figures in Hollywood, classical music, and other notable folks, rapping her ability to rise to any challenge, fight it, and come out on top: “Ain’t no elevator gonna bring you to this floor I’m on.” The beat pounds and a violin-like track kicks in the background throughout the song. Nikki Strong’s “Heat” rocks right with Queen La. Formerly known as Nikki D, she drops fine and hard and strong. Other hip-hop tracks on The Takeover are solid. but come up short in the company of the Queen and Rowdy Rahz.
The Takeover also features some fine R&B. The sweetest has to be “Get Minez,” a sultry groove that really shakes. Big Bub, another established artist in this collective, moves through the lyrics with smooth grace and strength and vocals that sway back and forth from supporting background to rap. Antonique holds her own with Big Bub. Her debut R&B track “Love Isn’t Love” features good backdrop harmonies. Antonique’s voice is lush. Her lyrics focus on the strength of the female speaking subject. F.A.T.E. also features a strong woman standing her ground in their track “Just Because.” The song is light and nothing new, but it’s solid R&B with a good hip-hop flavor.
The Takeover‘s other R&B numbers are predictable in their classic sound, but showcase the work of good artists. Overall, it features a good mix of various artists with individual styles that are worth checking out. Hail to the queen.