[11 August 2009]
As explained on Fabio Musta’s Passport, producer showcases are a hard sell. Sure, there is the obvious sense of cohesion achieved when one beatsmith tackles every track on there. But it doesn’t matter when the rappers churn out inconsistent verses over beats that rarely do more than cause your head to nod every few tracks. Unfortunately for this seasoned man of the wheels-of-steel, that’s exactly what happens on DJ JS-1’s Ground Control 2: No Sell Out.
To be fair, this record gets off to a strong start with some old-school NYC shit from Large Professor on “Like This” followed by KRS-One and Canibus on “Clear N’ Present Danger”. And it’s always nice to hear new rhymes from Sean Price, who spits on “Murder”. It’s just that as the album continues to play, its clear East Coast bias can become tiresome and played out. Sure, the always on-fire Brother Ali, who hails from Minnesota and kills it on “Nuthin’”, and California-emcee Rakaa Iriscience on “Rock Steadily” add some flair from their respective regions. They and a few others are in the minority, though, and in their place is a veritable, though flawed, who’s-who of hardcore East Coast hip-hop. And even as JS-1 mostly holds it down behind the boards and on the one’s and two’s, he and his guests don’t sync up often enough to make this a must-listen. No Sell Out also falls victim to a nearly 80-minute run time. Had at least five tracks been cut, such as the braggadocio-by-numbers “Sum Rap Shit”, the circumstances might be different. Instead, the end result is an album that misses as much as it hits.