N.O.R.E. (aka P.A.P.I.) - Student Of The Game

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N.O.R.E. attempts to court new fans and cater to his original CNN base. But filler and poor production create a mixed bag that won't fully satisfy either crowd.

Noreaga’s spot in Hip Hop history is solidified. Whether it be his work on the Capone-N-Noreaga projects, or his solo albums, his relevancy can’t be denied. He played a major role in initially showcasing arguably one of Hip Hop’s greatest producers with the Neptunes-produced “Superthug.” And N.O.R.E. continues to bring personality and a sense of humor to the game while still maintaining his rep in the streets through his music, and his non-musical incidents outside the vocal booth. With all that being said, as with most established veterans in the game, releasing an album at this point can be a risk. Attempting to fit in with what is hot now may lose your original fan base. Sticking to what you’ve been known for probably won’t connect with the new album buying audience. With Student Of The Game, P.A.P.I., as he’s known now, attempts to do a little bit of both. The results are a mixed bag, which probably won’t satisfy either crowd.

The album starts off with an intro by another son of Lefrak, Queens, Houston Rockets guard turned analyst, Kenny Smith, and then it goes right into the title track. On “Student Of The Game”, P.A.P.I. raps, “I’m still doing what I do, way past you / This album’s from the heart, I sort of feel like I have to / Prove shit, do the new shit / And the true school shit..” basically letting the goal be known off top. The track is a Cookin’ Soul beat, but it has a very golden era, Diamond D feel to it. Pete Rock provides a real dark vibe on “Vitamins,” which makes you wonder why N.O.R.E. and “Soul Brother #1” haven’t worked together more often. “Camouflage Unicorns” reunites N.O.R.E with Havoc and Tragedy Khadafi. With Havoc handling the hook, the combo of N.O.R.E and Tragedy definitely brings back an early to mid-‘90s vibe. “Built Pyramids” hooks N.O.R.E. up with another Queens legend, Large Professor. The sound is a distinctly different one for N.O.R.E, but it’s a welcomed change

When N.O.R.E tries to keep up with the times is where Student Of The Game suffers. “Thirsty” sounds like a beat that’s been passed around several times. “Tadow” combines N.O.R.E, French Montana, 2 Chainz, and Pusha T on a track so bad, not even a Pusha T verse could save it. Even worse is the combination of N.O.R.E and Jeremih on “Only Bad Ones,” with Jeremih using way too much after effects on his voice, and what has to be one of the most generic beats in a while. The track “The Problem” reunites N.O.R.E. with Pharrell, and the results are a representation of one of the major problems of the album. Pharrell’s sound, along with a lot of things in Hip Hop have changed. N.O.R.E. for the most part hasn’t--combining the two results in a bad blend. Student Of The Game is at its best recreating a sound, and vibe of that has been absent from the game for some time.

N.O.R.E tries to recreate “Banned From T.V.” with “Faces of Death.” The features of Raekwon, French Montana, Busta Rhymes and Swizz Beatz can’t match the original lineup of Nature, Big Punisher, Styles and Jadakiss. The beat composed by Jahlil Beats doesn’t give off the epic feel Swizz did on the original. Student Of The Game has its moments, but they are few and far between, lost amongst filler, comical skits, and some very poor attempts of to keep up with what is popular now. N.O.R.E doesn’t have to prove anything to anyone, and his attempts to do so drag this album down.



    Aye yo, aye yo, Regardless of rain or snow, sleet orAnnotate hail I kick street tales, chokin' niggas like I'm Sprewell Golden State, holdin' your fate in the palm of my hand Blow you away like its part of the plan I gotta call it like I see it, talk it like I be it Walkin' my walk, thugged out orthopedic Cause I'm soon to be up, give me room watch me heat up Niggas try to stick me like Abdul Louima follow the leader Make me go extra hard, yo N.O.R.E. should I hold back or show the repirtore Quit at sixteen or throw in extra bars just for the non-believers I show them why it's so hard to reach us I get pussy with my father's features Puff heavenly, see me at 6'1" weigh a buck 70 Catch me in spots y'all niggas never be Packed in like Green Bay Harlem week to Queens day Performin' acapella, no DJ '98 Live, no replays Make it seem easy, so tell a friend to tell a friend That it's them again, Nature, Noreaga, wild gremlins

  • Anonymous

    good album classics old skool beats and good new skool beats on album both good album is good!

  • Anonymous

    Dope album no doubt. Never relly on reviews/critics

  • icky

    Solid album You could tell dude just recently watched Rush Hour lol He does well with this type of shit so the lack of innovation doesn't bother me. What I Had To Do was pretty damn amazing especially the Scarface verse. And shit Bruce...yous a fowlnigga

  • jose

    Yo bruce smith...fuck u. I read your review and it sucks.

  • Jay DeLuca

    grew up like the regular thug Thankz Nore 4 a Goooooood album kakid1

  • Blackmapman

    N.O.R.E still got it. Still relevant. Still spittin fire. Student of the game!

  • Anonymous

    Got this album bangin in my headphones the last 3 days not skippin tracks cause im grown lol nigggga im 5"2... worth my $ as well."yo grew ^ like the regular thug Sold drugs wasnt proud about it thats just what i got do"......

  • hoopdr3@mz

    Love this album gonna have it on repeat dis whole week.....

  • LuChinChen

    Love this LP...props N.O.R.E. (I ain't callin him Papi...sorry).

  • Fritz

    Best N.O.R.E. album in a while, It's at least a 3.5-4 mics in my opinion, the old sound ain't dead :)

  • Ja Rule - Renaissance Project

    1. In a Dream (Produced by Irv Gotti) 2. Story Master (Produced by Scott Storch) 3. Whole Lotta Thug (Produced by Cool & Dre) 4. All on Me (Produced by Irv Gotti) 5. Love Yall More (Produced by Irv Gotti) 6. American Nightmare (Produced by Bangladesh) 7. World's Most Dangerous feat. Lil Wayne (Produced Cool & Dre) 8. Without Rhyme or Reason feat. Styles P (Produced Irv Gotti) 9. I Swear feat. Erick Sermon (Produced by Erick Sermon) 10. War & Love feat. Azealia Banks (Produced Hit-Boy, co. Chase N. Cashe) 11. Salute feat. Pharrell (Produced Pharrell Williams) 12. Tunnel Vision (Produced by Irv Gotti) 13. Big Beat (Produced by Swizz Beatz) 14. Bully Rap feat. Ghostface Killah, Method Man & Raekwon (Produced Irv Gotti) 15. Standing In the Shadows feat. The-Dream (Produced by Tricky Stewart, co. The-Dream) 16. Back on the Corner feat. Anthony Hamilton, Havoc & Jadakiss (Produced by Havoc) 17. I'm Ready feat. Swizz Beatz (Produced by Swizz Beatz)

  • QB Farmers

    I almost never comment on your reviews bc usually they are pretty much realistic...but this album should be at least 4*,to me its 5* no doubt!Its true NORE fell off a lil bit,but still he is betta than 95% of these "rappers"....album got og qb shit(P.Rock,Havoc,Scarface),but also few trap inspired tracks(thirsty,tadow)...only weak track is that with jeremih,but still its nice...Im waiting for part 2

  • erqg

    superweak. boring beats, no conception, washed up raps 1/5

  • ATSOrtiz

    This album is dope. Waiting for part 2.

  • Anonymous

    3 is a fair rating

  • doggfather

    finally a good NORE album after the last 2 solo...

  • dx is not hiphop

    album is fire

  • Anonymous

    smh dx you had your chance to redeem your shity site this album is a solid 4

  • doggfather

    only 3?!?! at least 4x album.

  • Anonymous

    i thought this went hard

  • youngvito79

    Damn this dude fell off hard!!! Nursery rhyme garbage..

  • maestro

    Loving this album and I aint even a Nore fan. Great work on this, sounds modern and old school at same time. How many people can do that ? not many

  • damanshakur

    4 stars, real hiphop, skit w kevin hart classic! Can't wait for part 2

  • Kunal

    Bit of a mixed bag. An improvement from Noreality but still... could have been so much more.

  • jus10

    More BUILT PYRAMIDS, less TADOW, please.

  • poppa large

    whoever dont dig is a new school clone on a steady diet of msg, aspartame, fluoride and hydrogenated oils. Oh, by the way NORE is respected by those who know. chumps hate cause there sheltered teenage pansys who never left their bedrooms(x-box) and never learned about real hip hop.

  • leon2cold

    Whoever reviewed this album needs to retire the album is far from trash the production is great.... The album is a go don't listen to the review

  • BTMoney

    Okay, let's get one thing straight: this album is not trash at all. Now that that's out of the way, this is still an average album. Somebody in the comments said it best, half of N.O.R.E.'s shit appeals to "real" hip hop fans and half of his shit appeals to mainstream hip hop fans. The thing is, when you put both of them together, it just doesn't sound cohesive. I wouldn't have any problem with this album if it was his debut. N.O.R.E. is a veteran now, he should know his lane. He shines over that "weird" Neptunes production that, in his case, both appeal to mainstream and "real" hip hop fans. On this album, it's just two different worls between the boom bap shit and the mainstream shit, and it's all just mixed up. Plus, N.O.R.E. doesn't bring anything new to the table, it sounds exactly like every other N.O.R.E. album, generic as fuck. It still has some great tracks though, I love the track with Large Professor, but my favorite one has to be the one with Pharrell. He just shines over his production, if they would do a collabo album, that would be without a doubt N.O.R.E.'s best album. It still deserves a 3/5 and I would definitely recommend it to everybody, from boom bap fans to mainstream fans, cause it has the appeal to please both of those crowds and I do think that's what Noreaga was going for (the name of the album, Student of the Game, shows that). It just doesn't work for me personally, there's absolutely no cohesion, which is very important to me.

  • chillchris

    What a joke of a review. this might be the best album of the year so far. It caters to both mainstream and old school grimey hip hop fans.

  • dtrell330


  • Zooyork

    This is NOT a good review. there is NO poor production. the joint with pharrell is dope and sound like nothing out now. Album is DOPE! Im only going to gree on "Thirsty" it wasnt needed. If you love real hip hop wether is the old or new this Album is a breath of fresh air. Buy it and you be the judge! Dont go by a review made by who knows .

  • jack daniels

    Poor production? LOL. Album is awesome

  • case7

    I thought the album was fiyah

  • ....

    Damn right "Student of the Game" he seems to be trying to follow the trend of Hip-Hop TODAY with this album, SMH. Album is trash.

  • Adot Trakz

    Personally I think you don't know what production is If you think this album is poorly produced! Shit is dope! N.O.R.E keep doing ya thing

  • hmmm

    The rating is straight. Album has no backbone and no cohesion, same with all NORE albums. It's halfway wanting to be commercial, halfway wanting to be hiphop, halfway sucking. No wonder he and Fat Joe stayed cool.

    • ....

      That's ALL you can say about an album and you rate it 5... Admit it boy, album is trash, N.O.R.E. is dope, album is trash.