In the year 2000, Priority Records released
Basic Training. A compilation of the greatest hits from Brooklyn’s Boot
Camp Clik, it’s usually considered the proverbial nail in the coffin
for such an album to be released, which was particularly disturbing,
considering that is was only a few short years prior where the Bucktown natives
had the game on smash.
Similar to fellow New York natives the Wu-Tang Clan, the
collective efforts of Blackmoon, Smif-N-Wessun, Heltah Skeltah
and Originoo Gunn Clappaz churned out catalogues of instant
vintage, and despite never attaining that commercial success, remained a focal
point in the underground scene.
Unfortunately, after the negative response from their first group effort For
The People, lagging sales of their subsequent releases, label drama and
inner turmoil within the group (causing fan favorite Rock to
temporarily leave the crew), their entire momentum came to a screeching halt,
leaving their fans wondering if they’d ever reach that pinnacle of hype again.
After a short hiatus, the BCC
released The Chosen Few to moderate sales and a well-received
response. But it wasn’t until Duck Down’s “Triple Threat”
campaign in 2005 which saw them return to their true form, punctuated by
resident super-emcee Sean Price’s Monkey Barz.
Following last year’s independent smash, The Last Stand, all eight
members return again for their fourth group release, Casualties Of War,
a compilation of tracks left on the cutting floor during their Last Stand
Kicking things off the head-pounding ‘The Hustle,” Steele
supplies the song’s hardest quotable over faint sampled wails and moans: “General
Steele/Boot Camp, Black Panther/Black fist, black gloves/wrapped around a black
snub”. The stutter-step pulsations of the Nottz-produced “Bubblin’ Up”
provides an excellent back drop for the Camp‘s
franchise player, Sean Price, to go absolutely nuts: “I
dumb down my dialect and double my dough/you muthafuckas better act like you
know/Sean Price’s a scholar, well-versed in the field of rap/valedictorian, I
don’t even feel the track”.
Whereas The Last Stand featured soul-filled heatrocks from the likes
of 9th Wonder, Pete Rock and Large
Professor, Casualties Of War opts to turn to lesser-known
producers while applying those same techniques. Unfortunately, while there was
a sense of cohesion in the former, the beats seem more scattered and out of
place in the latter, sometimes causing normally hard-hitting lyrics to feel
softer than a Twinkie filling. Dan the Man and Fred
Bear’s wanton sampling of The Meters’ “Just Kissed My Baby”
for “What You See” inspires lazy verses at
best. The noisy “BK All Day” is instant fast-forward material, and the usually reliable Marco
comes in with a few snoozers as well, in the forms of “I Want Mine” and “My
World.” Fortunately, the ever-improving 9th Wonder does make an appearance
with “I Need More,” and Jaywan Inc’s harmonica-fueled “Jail Song” provides the best
moment of the album.
Casualties Of War is nothing more than an appetizer to whet Duck
fan’s appetites until their next official full-length. However, with Ruck’s Master P now floating around, only
the die-hards should pick up this compilation to get their fix.