[13 March 2007]
“Since 2002 we have been on an oft-delayed mission here at backwoodz studioz, to punch a hole in the rap game big enough for all of the talented cats we know to crawl through. We are not there yet, but the hole is definitely a lot f*cking bigger.”
It’s an appropriate quote, as Target Practice acts as an audio advertisement for the label’s roster of artists: Marq Spekt and Karniege (Invizibl Men—with a vanishing “e” at the end of “Invizibl”), Billy Woods and Priviledge (The Super Chron Flight Brothers), Keith Masters, Hi-Coup, the Reavers, and so on. Plus, the set boasts an arsenal of producers (such as Dr. MONOKROME, Bond, and Axis 360) and contributions from guests like Lo Deck, Nathaniel Roberts, and Baron of Red Clay. Considering the album’s mission (to showcase the Backwoodz talent) and length (21 tracks at about 75 minutes), a certain amount of sub-par material should be expected, perhaps even excused. About a dozen of the songs jumped out at me as immediately enjoyable, which I consider a healthy ratio for a look-at-everything-we’ve-got compilation. Among the tracklist, the production work routinely outpaces the emcees, and I was most impressed by the production efforts that incorporated recognizable yet unexpected elements of pop culture. For example, the Oompa Loompa chants behind Hi-Coup’s “Ghetto Factory” are brilliantly jarring and well executed, along the lines of Jay-Z’s samples from Little Orphan Annie in “Hard Knock Life”. Other highlights are “City of Heroes” (Super Chron Flight Brothers featuring Baron of Red Clay), “Project Doo Wop” (Hi-Coup), “Black Ops” (Super Chron Flight Brothers), “Shadows” (The Reavers), and “Nyce Kidz” (Invizibl Men featuring Lo Deck).