If J.R. Writer
and his camp were steady pushing back History
In The Making's release date in an attempt to build up more anticipation
for the LP, somebody should've told them it wasn't necessary. The 20-year old
mixtape phenom's project has been among Hip Hop's most wanted since the release
of Writer's Block 1 in 2004. On that
merit alone, he was able to secure a million dollar deal with Asylum earlier this year for his second
album. The question is, now that it's all spit, tracked-out, shrink-wrapped,
and out of Cam's
"not-even-the-press-can-get-an-advance-listen" mighty grip, does he deliver?
First things first: folks have been wondering whether the Dominican Don would be able to churn
out a bonafide LP and shake-off the title that has him pegged as little more
than the "Stop-N-Go" battle-rapping, prince of punch lines. Well, you can dead
your worries about that--truth be told, on the extremely lengthy 19-track LP,
the sick punch lines we've become accustomed to hearing from Ryder, as he's affectionately called,
are few and far between. Though you'll be glad that he didn't simply rest on
the same recipe that makes his mixtapes so ill, and took time to recognize the
difference between a solid mixtape and a solid album, one can't help but to
feel like there's something uniquely JR
There are gems to be found. The most fertile breeding
grounds for that signature Writer
wordplay are on "Stomp" and the Dame
Grease-produced track, featuring two verses of straight fire, "Zoolander."
Spitting bars like; "Your wife countin my
cake, her nice mouth on my snake/Watch surrounded by flakes, boy and these
rocks are annoyin/I can't keep 'em outta my face, uhh/Who's as icy as me, shit
I icicle T's/It's nothing for the stunt and turn your wife to a ski/My chain
hang and man she delighted to see/A hundred karats, faggot wrist full of
vitamin D." And on the former, "Yo;
I'm a menace clown listen now, I grip the pound and get it down/You'll be a
missin kitten and sniffin the scent of hound/That leaves the ditch to found,
captain is capped, blap blap/Fuck if you new in town, you'll still get around/I
keep the addicts in attics while I traffic the order/I done packaged the
package then got it back through the border." All the while it's
appropriately peppered with the sampled Diddy
line "...slow down son, you're killin 'em..."
The young Harlemite earns his nickname "The Writer of Writers" and makes
The Dips have a
cult-like following that can't be denied, and those folk will probably see this
album as the best thing since, well, Cam's Killa Season. Writer's album will do well because of those die-hard fans. But
those of us with a more unbiased ear will pick up on the good and bad elements
that leave History In The Making teetering
somewhere between "buy that shit" and "burn that shit."
The album begins and ends well; on the first track, "To Be A
Diplomat," you learn a lot about the fairly mystical Dipset member as he spits hard in his freestyle-ish flow, taking us
step-by-step through his rise to fame: "I
battled the best, dazzled the rest to be a (Diplomat)/I done had to tackle some
vets/Yes, now it's true indeed who is he (who's he) I got Diplomatic
Immunity(uhh)/What can y'all do to me (what)/I wasn't given a set, I had to
give 'em my best/They ain't just give me respect or ship me a check (stupid)."
The last track, "The Heist," shows off J.R.'s
storytelling skills, which are impressive.
In between, you got the definite club heater and second
single, "Grill'em." Paul Wall gives
a solid verse, as usual (as does Writer), on "It's A Bet." 40 Cal
comes half-baked with some wack bread metaphors on "Pay Homage" - not sure why Writer would put that on his album.
Production throughout is only so-so; you got the Doe Boyz on "My Life," and Knoxville
on "Back Wit It," which features Jim
Jones, Freekey Zekey, Killa Cam and Santana. Set it off joint "Riot Pump" deserves an honorable
mention; it definitely got wang. But with take 'em or leave 'em's like "Goonies"
ft. Jim Jones and Hell Rell, "Put You On," where Writer sounds a bit too much like his
mentor, and "Why Try" ft. Sas, which
only makes you wonder why they tried. By track 13 or so, you find yourself
having reached your limit with Writer's
Don't get me wrong, Writer's
album is pretty good; his only problem is that his greatest competition is
himself. You can't shine the way that he does on mixtapes and guest spots, and
not come with some classic material on your own solo joint. In the end, maybe
he's just a victim of overly-high expectations; the downside of building up a
ridiculous buzz that sets the bar way high. Overall, Writer doesn't show up on this album the way someone gunning to go
down in history should. Is it garbage? Hell no. Could Writer stand to drop the "Cam's
light-skinned twin" bit and give us that hot shit he's obviously capable
of? Hell yes.