Born in Harlem and raised in the Bronx, Smiley
The Ghetto Child
is no stranger to this hip-hop shit. From
ghostwriting for the likes of Black Sheep and Chi Ali
to running with Gang Starr and Group Home,
Smiley has been in this game for well over decade. From the very start of this
album Smiley The Ghetto Child sets a very high bar with the
words “You unwrapping that real Hip Hop…the
illest…the finest of this shit. None of that popcorn, Maybelline bullshit.

Unfortunately he may have set it too high as he only comes through with half of
that promise.

He doesn’t lie when he claims that you won’t find commercial joints on this
record, however I wouldn’t exactly use the words “illest” or “finest” to
describe it. For the most part I would use the word “consistent”. By this I
mean you get the same sound on damn near every track. Don’t expect elaborate
metaphors, tricky flows or even more than 3 or 4 topics. What you’re getting
with The Antidote is an album’s worth of street mentality, simple
rhymes, and simpler hooks. Not that these aspects are always bad, I mean cats
like Too $hort have built substantial careers doing just that.
Sadly, Smiley the Ghetto Child lacks the charisma to pull it
off in the same manner, and on most songs the sometimes nonsensical lyrics are
interchangeable with the rest of the record.

As easy as it would be to dwell on Smiley’s lack of
variance, this album does have some redeeming qualities. First, this record has
some truly brilliant production and is sequenced nicely so there isn’t a lot of
droning stretches or rude awakenings. I can’t help but wonder if DJ
always dope production has anything to do with the way Smiley
comes off so dope in between Premo’s trademark cuts on “The Wake Up Call.”
Unlike many artists who’ve recently decided that putting 10 skits on an album
is the thing to do, this album features only one mildy amusing skit and
intro/outro. For those of you wondering where W.C. from Westside
has been, apparently he’s been writing blistering verses
that absolutely showcase his flow to use for guest appearances. While I think
this album may have benefited from a couple more voices, Dub-C really does his thing and helps make “L.A.N.Y.” one
of the better tracks.

The final song, “Rest In Peace,” is unique in two ways. It’s the one truly
brilliant performance by The Ghetto Child, and the sole
deviation from the thug posturing norm. In the end, what this album lacks in
diversity is nearly made up for by consistency, but falls just short.