Big Noyd made his name on a series of incredibly intense guest appearances with Mobb Deep. Through those verses on the duo’s first three albums and his 1996 Episodes of A Hustla debut, Noyd was among the pack that made Queens Rap reign in the mid-’90s. The emcee’s catalog may have had Queens appeal, but Noyd’s impact has remained mostly within his burough and his affiliates. Not a lot has changed on his new album, Queens Chronicle. One thing that Noyd has consistently been charged with is his inability to sustain the greatness he flashes in his guest spots over the course of his own solo projects. And while the new record is not brilliant from beginning to end it is, wisely, kept succinct with highlights in abundance. The work shows a strong allegiance to New York Rap and the production trends of that music within the 1998-2003 window, but Noyd sounds so at home in these stylistic conventions that it’s hard to begrudge the man for sticking with a formula that works.
Throughout Queens Chronicle, Big Noyd’s lyrics show the emcee dedication to presenting reality with a journalistic eye for detail, as he states on the chorus to “Queensbridge Thuggin’,” “I don’t sell dreams / I sell crack.” Noyd raps, over mazzive drums and tinkling pianos, “Livin’ more vivid / I don’t need to dramatize” on the track “Dreams” which also features samples of Jay-Z, Nas, and Notorious B.I.G. making it clear to even the most casual listener that Noyd wants to be considered amongst those Big Apple legends, which is probably what the titular “dreams” are about. On “Where My G’z At,” over the crack of a snare, a thick bassline, and strings Noyd recalls “I started moving work at the age of 16” and then later says “Till this day I’m the same way.” Noyd’s refusal to chase trends means he is still rapping about guns and money, but at least he is still rapping about it well. Another album highlight is “Pokerface” which contains another Nas sample and still more proof of Noyd’s eye for detail in his first verse description of a card game. The track also offers two lines: The first, “Makin’ hits since ‘96 / I don’t need a T-Pain” further demonstrates Noyd’s rejection of newer styles and the second, “If you scared get a dog / If you gully get a gun,” shows why Noyd should be allowed to kick concrete rhymes for the rest of his life: he’s great at it. The best track on the album, the joyously violent “Kilo Rap”, with a chirped-up Soul sample that sounds like Kanye West’s work circa Purple Haze, contains drug talk you have heard many times before. Again, Noyd, joined by Termanology and Ghetto, deliver their lines with bracing intensity and a “matter of fact” level of confidence: “You already know the name kid / Noyd from the fuckin’ bridge / Steppin on coke / It is what it is.”
Unfortunately, some tracks on Queens Chronicle just come off formulaic. “Testify” is one 45RPM Soul sample too many on an album released in 2010 that is not even 40 minutes long. “Get It Done” goes for club banger status, but ends up unconvincing when compared to the harder edged material that surrounds it. Perhaps it’s fitting for Noyd to sound so lethargic on “QB Duo” who’s overly repetitive chorus contains the line “We need sleep” but that doesn’t make the song any more enjoyable. And “Money Time” sounds like a Massacre-era 50 Cent B-side.
For the emcee that famously appeared on Mobb’s “Party Over,” Big Noyd knows when it’s time to bounce. Queens Chronicle ends with two of its better and briefer tracks. The first, a tightly wound track with whining horns and scratch Funk guitar called “New York Lights”, makes explicit the albums overriding theme, New York Rap’s street authenticity, with great lines like, “Came up from banging on banisters in the hallway / To havin’ my name lit up in lights on Broadway.” The second track is album closer “Livin’ the Life.” Reminiscent of early ’00s Neptunes work, and at barely over 90 seconds, it’s dissonant beats and wheezing “blown speaker” synths are bracing. Over the course of the album, Noyd visits several proven formulas from his hometown’s Hip Hop history. This album may remind you of days gone by but Noyd’s dedication to remaining a vital, honest, and detail obsessed lyricist makes sure it never feels stuck in the past.