As astute fans will tell you, Crooked I is no new artist. Having been in the game for 14 years, the west coast spitter spent a good chunk of his career wading through label politics – only to find himself still grinding it out in 2009. After an acclaimed freestyle series some years back, in addition to well-received mixtapes and a Slaughterhouse album – on which he was undoubtedly a star – Crook keeps it moving with his latest release, the digital EP Mr. Pig Face Weapon Waist.
Crooked begins his EP by introducing his alter-ego. Whether it’s asinine to have an intro on a seven-track EP or not, the listener does learn a little about Mr. Pig Face – so take it for what it’s worth. On the aptly-titled “Mr. Pigface,” Crook wastes no time, diving straight into clever lines: “I won’t be finished until I’m mentioned with the best ever / I rock a record like I’m a member of Def Leppard / I keep my eyes on my prey like I’m a deaf leopard / You better crown me or I’ll jump you like a red checker.”
Next is “U Shoulda Made a Phone Call” is essentially the polar opposite of the track preceding it: lazy rhymes about rims and Impalas, painfully pedestrian gun talk, and a painful hook courtesy of K. Young. “One More Time” is more of the same ¬– a synth mess with predictable tales of misogyny. It’s an astoundingly lazy record, and calls into question what Crooked I is really trying to accomplish here.
Mercifully, Snoop Dogg forces Crooked to step his game up on “Guess Who’s Back?” – even though his contribution is limited to a chorus that rehashes a few lyrics from “Ain’t No Fun.” Thankfully, Crooked I sounds hungry calling Internet-thugging rappers over the airy, Middle East-flavored production. As the EP heads to its penultimate offering, “Freestyle Cypher,” things really do start to get interesting. While Horse Shoe G.A.N.G. are all indiscernible and fail to offer anything of much significance, it’s worth it to hear Royce and Crooked close out the cut with outstanding verses replete with quotables.
The culmination of Mr. Pig Face Weapon Waist is worth the price of admission, as Slaughterhouse and M.O.P. hop on the track for some good ol’ wilin’ out music on “Woodstock Hood Hop.” While Billy Danze and Fizzy Womack (sadly) only contribute a chorus, it’ll make you want to strap on your Timbs and stomp someone out. And, of course, Slaughterhouse brings its typical intensity, with each member trying to out-rhyme the last. It also doesn’t hurt having Nottz a high-energy backdrop that hearkens back to “Ante Up.”
As a collection of individual songs, Mr. Pig Face… is a mixed bag. The problem is, it’s not just a random assortment. With such a short track listing, an EP should be a cohesive, hard-hitting effort that, while not as expansive or comprehensive as an LP, provides an idea of which direction an artist is headed. As it is, Crooked I’s latest offering fails to indicate what that direction is, and calls into question his capability to put forth an engaging full-length release. Fortunately, he shows significant promise; unfortunately, this project amounts to little more than that.