By now, it should be known that when DJ Babu is ready to drop, you're not going to get your run-of-the-mill Deejay album. With help from the likes of Percee P, Bishop Lamont [click to read] and the Likwit Junkies, it's evident that even a competent production job - something that Babu is more than capable of - could render excellent results. Such is the case with Duck Season Vol. 3.
Appropriately, Babu's folk Dilated Peoples get the album started on the funky "DS3 Intro." In a collaboration that's sure to make hardcore New York Hip Hop fans salivate, Babu enlists the help of M.O.P. on "Dearly Departed," complete with blaring horns and an eternally furious Billy Danze and Lil Fame shouting, "Dearly departed/Bring it to us, we get it started!"
"Fan Mail" sounds like a more lighthearted version of "N.Y. State of Mind," (tell me those bass strums don't take you back to '94!) as Little Brother [click to read], Joe Scudda and D-Brock team up on the track. It's clear that Babu's aim with this installment of Duck Season is to combine his soulful backdrops with hard-hitting, gritty rhymes - so "The Unexpected" [click to listen], featuring MF DOOM and Sean Price is a dream match up in the sense. The two perrenial favorites find an instant chemistry with their strange senses of humor and rock the quirky beat. Jesus Price may have recycled a verse like Ice Cube in '92, but it doesn't keep it from being a highlight of the album.
One forgettable Guilty Simpson [click to read] track later, the album returns to form with aggressive rhymes backed by a sinister violin and Babu's well-documented turntablist abilities. Bishop Lamont waxes sociopolitical over piano loops on "My Opinion," as the Aftermath protégé covers everything from high gas prices, drugs, police and music labels: "This rap songs is trash and gas is four dollars a gallon/To fill my truck it's seventy, fuck your album/I ain't gon' waste cash on your wack ass/I'd rather get it off Limewire, but then again/It might not be fire waste of a blank disk/Another wack-ass ringtone vocalist/...Fuck a record deal, they're giving single deals/That's that fast food rap with no refills." Lamont's poignant rhymes are definitely one of DS3's highlights.
"For Whatever it's Worth" features longtime-collaborator Evidence ripping the track with eerie, emotionless flow. Some might not like it, but it fits the subject matter and eerie backdrop that Babu provides. However, the song is out of place on the album for its departure from the rest in terms of sound. Termanology [click to read] pops in over a jazzy piano loop for "Guns Gon' Blow," and is a perfect example of the sound Babu has painstakingly crafted for this DS3 -which is why tracks like the aforementioned "The Unexpected" and "For Whatever it's Worth" are sound so odd. Had Babu chosen to cut tracks like these from the album, it would be a much more cohesive experience.
Ultimately, Babu's Duck Season Vol. 3 has plenty worth listening to. Most of the emcees on the album live up to their reputations, though some fall painfully short. It's the same story for the production - usually it'll range from good to top notch, but slips into mediocre territory often enough so that it's noticeable. All gripes aside, there's no doubt that after listening to DS3, you'll certainly believe DJ Babu when he tells you that it is, indeed, duck season.