When one stops to think about it, Beanie Sigel [click to read] seems like the primary specimen for an “unreleased music” compilation. Not necessarily because of his prolificacy, but because of his artistic nature and his career. He was part of a record label and a crew— Roc-A-Fella and State Property, respectively—that dissolved out of nowhere, and despite a few hit records, he has always seemed too rough around the edges to ever properly assimilate to the big business side of music. So the news of him following the steps of his SP brethren Freeway [click to read] by dropping an indie release out of thin air shouldn’t be too much of a surprise. And neither should the outcome of said album, Broad Street Bully: a project that shows the essence of who Beanie Sigel is, but lacking the direction and polish one would hope to see from The Ignorance, which he says is his next major release.
Beans introduces Broad Street Bully as “the lost files of some real street shit,” and for the most part, that formula works very well. Aside from exceptions like the gem of a imagery that is “The Ghetto,” the disc lives up to its namesake by giving Beans a forum to showcase his brawny mic presence and brass-knuckled rhymes. But one of the more alluring aspects of Broad Street Bully isn’t even Beanie himself, but instead, the abundance of State Property tracks. Half of the album places him rhyming alongside the likes of Young Chris [click to read], Freeway or Omilio Sparks [click to read], and their group dynamic works just as well as it always did: each member maximizes the others’ impact without anyone getting outshined. Even songs without organized structure, such as “Ready For War” [click to listen], work with their scattered verses and dead air between them. “Run To The Roc” sees Young Chris and Omilio Sparks bitterly recounting their lives after the Roc’s breakup, while “Sicker Than Your Average” sees him Freeway spitting razor sharp bars. And considering the album’s puzzling exclusion of production credits, the beats here surprisingly hold their own, despite not completely keeping up with Beans’ discography of A-List beat-makers like Kanye West, Bink! and Just Blaze.
The construction of Broad Street Bully keeps the album from being a full indication of Beans’ breadth of talent, though. Aside from the aforementioned “The Ghetto,” none of the songs here show the level of detail displayed on songs like “Bread and Butter” or “Feel It In The Air,” and the versatility conveyed on “I’m In” and “Stop, Chill” is nowhere to be found, here. Plus, the lack of structure on several songs may upset some, especially those who became accustomed to the seasoned arrangements on The B. Coming [click to read] and The Solution [click to read]. But Broad Street Bully should hit the spot for fans who simply want to hear some new Beans, and it’s good to see he hasn’t gotten rusty.