Most will agree that Hip Hop isn’t the greatest these
days; New York in particular has been stuck in the doldrums for a couple years
now. Part of the problem is the audible junk food from cats like Dipset, but even worse is the flood of
rappers trying to be like them. That’s like aspiring to be a garbage man; even
if you achieve it, you’re not doing too great. At worst, NY needs some balance.
What that means is more descendants of Gang
Starr, Pete Rock and the like. Not artists trying to be carbon copies, just
some cats with similar sensibilities and aesthetics. With producers like Black Milk, 9th Wonder, Khrysis,
Kev Brown, Marco Polo, Illmind, etc, there is no shortage of beatsmiths to
craft the true school sound. Plus, the architects like Primo, Pete Rock and Large
Pro are still bangin’ em out too.
Thankfully, the new breed is here. East coast lyricists
such as Joell Ortiz, Termanology,
Skyzoo, Sha Stimuli and of course, Torae,
have all got the right idea. Da Young
Veteran from BK has been on his grind heavy of late. From mixtapes to guest
spots to blogs, Torae wasn’t hard to find in 2007. So it’s only appropriate
that 2008 kicks off with his debut.
out of the gate strong with his manifesto to the game “Callin’ Me.” Khrysis sprinkles “Something To See”
with some understated keys and Da Young Veteran gives perhaps his best
performance of the LP; “Resident front
man, why would you front man?/damn these beats, these bars, what more do they
want man?/or maybe they want less, so I give’em all jus/ a little a taste test
of the rawness, uh huh yes.” It is only backed by a passable beat, but “Journey
Pt. 1” is pretty fascinating stuff regardless. Tor narrates his experiences over the years in the game; from Jay-Z to Cash Money.
Folks familiar with Torae
will be a bit let down to see one of the two Primo contributions is “Click” featuring Skyzoo. Not that the horn-driven joint isn’t straight, it’s just
that it’s mad old. Frequent M.O.P.
collaborator Teflon comes through
and tears up “Think About It,” one of the LP’s best songs and undoubtedly the
hardest. Speaking of dope, Tor
addresses the criticism that his flow is always the same with “Switch.” Over a
pretty ridiculous Black Milk
production, Tor indeed proves he can
flip multiple styles with ease. Of course, showing that he can switch it up
doesn’t change the fact that he rarely does. Speaking of switching things up, “Da
Nigguz Is Commin” featuring Tash of Tha Alkaholiks takes things up a notch.
Just another one of Khrysis‘ stellar
contributions to the album.
There is more dope here than Frank Lucas‘ office, but there are a couple tracks that don’t hold
up their end of the bargain. Tor
teams up with Skyzoo again over a Premier joint (“Get It Done”), and
while solid, it has that latter day Primo
feel that just isn’t quite as good as it used to be. Again, its solid, but the Marco Polo assisted “Casualty” doesn’t
really add much to the album and is the wrong way to finish the album. Closing
out with the buttery Eric G. produced “Tayler Made” would have been much more appropriate. Nice
little track for his daughter right there.
may not be blazing from front to back, but it also has weak spots that aren’t
really weak – just not quite up to par with the rest. Torae has long shown his gift for rhyming and now proves his ear
for beats to be as good and consistent as his bars. He also earns his “Young
Veteran” nickname, as this in no way sounds like a debut album. Dude is plenty polished
already, I’m sure this is just the first of many conversations we’ll have about