Bucktown...Home of the
original gun clappers was one of the most recognizable phrases of '95, so
it was no surprise that Smif N Wessun also
became one of that year's most prominent acts. Along with the rest of the BCC, they remained as a staple for
griminess way before the gentrification of Hip-Hop. But just as the rest of the
crew, due to various circumstances including the rise of shiny suit music, they
lost steam around the second album and seem to have been fighting their way
back since then.
They offer their fourth release, The Album, which seems to be completely different then anything
else in their existing catalog. The most obvious difference is the production. You
won't find any Evil Dee & Mr. Walt
reunions going on here. Not even a track from their newfound J-League fam (Khrysis, 9th, etc.) Instead, all the soundscaping is
handled by Ken Ring, Tommy Tee, Collen
& Webb and several other producers from abroad. This time they took the
BK Connection to Sweden.
This album is much darker than any of the others but still
has the Tek & Steele feel to it.
It starts off slow with See The Light
but picks up quickly with Gotta Say It
which gives us the feel-good vibe of the era in which the duo was most popular.
They slow things down a little after that and give us a couple of 07 updates on
95 favorites. K.I.M. 2000 and PNC 4 Life do not quite live up to the
original efforts from Dah Shinin' but
stand alone in their own category. Stomp
Thru brings us back to the Boot Camp
with assistance from Rockness himself
on the hook and, one of the most promising up and comers to bless the scene in
a while, Joell Ortiz, who takes time
off from his new Aftermath home to
jump on the track with his hometown heroes. He drops two verses and comes
through on the second sounding like a rejuvenated Royal Flush and boasts "Ma
I'm so gutter/no sister, no brother/one mother, no father, no problem, oh
brother," (can you say dead in the
middle of Little Italy?).
The Album has much
more range and depth than most offer at this point in Hip-Hop. Who Gonna Save Us and Still Fighting find the Cocoa Brovaz dealing with political and
community issues but not in a preaching, so-called conscious manner and still
not in a gun clapping fashion either. Movie
has the group intertwining motion picture scenarios with real life while S.T. borrows a line from the American Gangsta himself and let's us
know It's not a movie dog. It's more like
a documentary. The most entertaining track would have to be Can't Stop where the BCC Alumni put us up on their hustle in
the dice game, "Street Life I'ma
survive/hustlin is my 9 to 5/oh no, you can never stop my money."
While this album may be lacking the classic grit and
aggression that helped to make their collective famous, it definitely shows
growth artistically and personally. They still carry the signature BCC humor and deliver a solid release. The
production does the trick for the most part, but rarely stands out to make this
more than just a good album. Many of our championed artists have grown up and
this is something we will continue to see, but we can't help but wonder if we
will ever get back that chemistry that was seen with Black Moon, Fab 5 and of course with help from The Beatminerz.