“Bad Dreams,” the sophomore opus from Canada’s highly acclaimed duo comes with alot of expectations. After receiving critical appraise worldwide for their debut LP, Swollen had to cement their position in hip hop with “Bad Dreams.” Swollen Members can best be described as the darker counterparts of Dilated Peoples. While there are numerous similarities between the two groups (white guy with a dope voice, black guy with scientific rhymes, same producers, Rock Steady Crew affiliates, and their name essentially means the same thing), Swollen has a sound that is much darker, and this time around it is even darker.
The albums title is quite appropriate as there a number songs that could be soundtracks to your nightmares. The Alchemist blessed “Bad Dreams” is a good example of that, as is “The Reflection.” Despite the underlying darkness of the album, they don’t allow things to get repetitive and boring. Tracks like “Take It Back,” “Anthrax Island” and “Snake Bite” are great changes of pace that all come at the right time in the album.
The appropriately titled “Fuel Injected” is one of the premier cuts on the album, as is the booming “Killing Spree.” Not to be outdone are “Full Contact” and “Deep End.” “Full Contact” features Evidence’s signature keys and his ill voice on the chorus, and Chali 2na blesses Mad Child and Prevail with a verse. The aforementioned “Deep End” is another dark track that features a great verse from Prevail and the albums best verse from Mad Child,
“hand to hand combat / gone far beyond that / armed to the teeth / this is a bomb threat / graveyard shift / way past obnoxious / we play to win / you count your loses / an awesome roster / original design rhymes / find time to make the shiver up your spine climb / this ain’t theatrics / we rock with tactics / and smash on you plastic actresses for practice / the fact is I’m violent by nature / don’t hate ya / like most people about as much as they like me / haven’t found a way to say ‘fuck you’ politely / these days I stick to myself but / sometimes get sick of myself / got my own circle / love my people / bleed for my people / need no replacement / Mad Child’s life unfolds with bold statements.”
The albums most original track comes on the Joey Chavez produced “Ventilate.” Mad Child and Prev One take this time to air their grievances with one another and they actually get quite personal. I’m guessing that if groups like Tribe Called Quest and EPMD made songs like that, they would have never broken up. “Bad Dreams” has only one problem, and it is the same one that “Balance” had, it is a couple tracks too long. Nonetheless, another good album from Vancouver’s finest.