In the
early 90’s, a West Coast collective of artists came to be known as the Likwit Crew.  While most of West
had drifted towards the more popular ‘gangsta rap’, the Crew consisted of a much more independent list of members. Alongside
Defari, party rappers of the day The Alkaholiks, producer King Tee, Xzibit and the Lootpack
toured for much of 1993 to 1995 leading to Defari’s demo
in ’95.  Eventually signing to Tommy
Boy Records
, he released his debut album Focused Daily in 1999, which may consider his best solo work to
date. After releasing an EP and the album Odds & Evens on ABB,
Defari kept his pen on paper and
made sure his next album was met with a similar response. He and DJ Babu formed the Likwit Junkies for an album last year which was met with some
applause. Now he is back again on the solo tip, while The Liks may be hanging it up as a group: King Tee is mysteriously absent at a time when music needs him
most, Xzibit is pimping rides
and Defari was in the studio
crafting Street Music.

It’s not
surprising for an independent artist to put out repeatedly good albums and
go unnoticed for years, but Defari’s
latest should put some critics on advisory and will hopefully coax the rest of
the Likwit crew out of their
foxholes.  While the album isn’t necessarily solving world hunger with
rhymes and music for the “street,” Defari
did get some of the Likwit family
back together long enough to make some quality material.  While most of
the album is produced by Mike City,
whose work includes many artists in the R&B/Soul category, Evidence (of Dilated Peoples), E-Swift
(of the Liks) and Alchemist as well. B-Real shows up and DJ Babu makes an appearance or
two.  The first street
single for Street Music, “Make My Own”
with Evidence, sounds like a
recycled Alchemist beat that’s been
on every Mobb Deep album out, but
it’s still on point.

the rest of Street Music – specifically
the choruses for each song – are tired examples of what you’d probably like to
avoid.  Not that I’m hoping for the “Chain Hang Low” sing-song
chorus, but with Defari’s
quick-witted punch lines, on his best tracks his fans will suffer
from the inevitable roller coaster ride of loving it, then hating it and
over again. “Congratulations” is a little bit much, considering his fame in Japan is
nothing to be fucked with and “Peace and Gangsta” actually challenges him
with… speed.  The one song I was hoping to enjoy, “Deepest Regards,” was
intolerable; guests like B-Real
and J-Ro offer nothing new on the
song and the chorus is repetitive to say the least.  Like most artists
right now, Defari’s album is nothing
new and exciting.  Although it isn’t an album that will have
you wearing a bulletproof vest, carrying guns or starting imaginary beefs
for album sales, it will remind you of a time when the entire Likwit Crew was heralded for their
creativity rather than their repetitious nature.