I Told You So is Chino XL’s second time around with a full-length album. His debut effort, although not entirely successful nevertheless distinguished him as a bonafide lyrical talent. On this sophomore release Chino XL certainly proves that he is lyrically proficient, but not without many bumps along the way.
Listeners who are impressed with good metaphors and witty punch lines will definitely take to Chino’s rhyme style. On the title track, accented with synthesizer and electronic bleeping effects, Chino spits “I leave rappers confused like homeless cats on house arrest.” ‘That Would Be Me‘ finds Chino in full battle mode with lines like “I run with killers that spend more time in the pen than ink.” The upbeat ‘Chino XL‘ has probably the greatest number of one-liners on the album with rhymes such as “that album you drop, I ain’t feelin’ it/ I wouldn’t buy your record if it had a hundred dollar bill in it.” Chino should be commended for not being afraid to drop names (something that few battle rappers actually do) as he disses everyone from Mase and Puffy to SWV. However, don’t expect much innovation beyond battle raps – which is the main detriment to the album. Most songs are well produced and occasionally Chino does create engaging stories such as in the excellent “Sorry,” “It’s My World,” and “Be Here.” However, almost equally annoying as the continuous battle rhymes are Chino’s unsubstantiated boasts that he is the greatest thing to ever walk the Earth. His self-proclaimed superiority is mentioned so many times that it becomes nothing less than obnoxious. Chino’s proclamations of his divinity would be much more believable if he could verbally keep his ego in check.
Good beats and battle lyrics abound on I Told You So, but don’t expect to hear many thought provoking theme-oriented songs. However, aspiring emcees would do well to use this album as a study guide to masterful rhyming.