Wordsmith [click to read] is a fresher face on the scene with a career that’s been growing over the last five or so years. Meanwhile, it’s been 12 years since Chubb Rock released a full-length, despite having a number of hits in the ’80s and early ’90s, with credit for introducing The Lady Of Rage [click to read] to Hip Hop under his belt. The two bring their different Hip Hop generational perspectives together for Bridging The Gap, an unexpected collaboration but a potentially interesting one. Altogether, the Baltimore/Brooklyn duo doesn’t quite reach the brass ring of what they’re hypothetically capable of, but the album is good enough as a side project.
While the rhymes are handled well, the production on the album is probably its strongest element. Produced mainly by Strada, the beats are clean and uncomplicated but still show creativity. “Old 2 The New” [click to listen] switches back and forth between two different versions of the track, as Wordsmith and Chubb Rock pass the mic back and forth, extending the track meaning. “Soul Baby Blues” employs a similar effect, shifting the time signature around as the track progresses to bring a little more life out of the otherwise straightforward approach.
In the booth, Wordsmith‘s style carries over fairly well with his relaxed, conversational style. He seems a little bit limited, almost as if he’s trying not to offend Chubb, but still basically sounds like the reputation built upon a plethora of downloadable albums and mixtapes. As for Chubb, the ’95 Crooklyn Dodger has aged better than most emcees do, though he doesn’t have the “Mr. Large” type of quotables to hold up from any of the 13 tracks. It would be ideal to pick put a few specific tracks to point to but honestly, it all runs together pretty quickly.
The basic issue with Bridging The Gap is that Wordsmith and Chubb Rock never really do much to fully justify the collaboration. The two don’t seem to have any obvious chemistry, and while they frequently reference how great it is that the old school and the new school are coming together, they never truly explore the idea – or explain how or why they found each other. Most tracks aren’t even about anything in particular (though the hook on “Clay Davis” is kind of cute if you’re a fan of The Wire) so while nothing stands out as bad, nothing stands out as that memorable either.
Bridging The Gap is a solid work, though one that may be ephemeral in today’s climate. It’s neither a stunning comeback for Chubb, nor a referendum on his age, and while a it’s satisfactory addition to Wordsmith‘s catalogue, perhaps the proper introduction on the patient emcee may be altered by his esteemed company. Perhaps a first for two rappers to use the same medium for re-and-introductions, this effort stands apart in theory more than in sound.