Few rappers who’ve been releasing solo albums for over 15
years are as sharp today as Edo G.
Although the spacing in his name has changed, the Boston emcee still wraps
ageless wisdom with hard-knock Roxbury street talk with beats to match. Though Da Bulldogs ran their course, Edo brought out a diverse mix of local
talent, including the abrasive Slaine
and longstanding guest verse-dropper and hype-man Jaysaun as Special Teamz.
The quartet (with DJ Jayceeoh) is Duck Down Records’ first release
outside the invisible walls of Brooklyn in two decades, and a reclaiming that
1991’s brightest star still gotta have it.
Long Time Comin’
is Special Teamz done right. With Devin the Dude crooning a common-man’s
chorus, the flows of the group are very impressive. Slaine steps up with perfect timing, albeit chronicling a rich
man’s cocaine operation against the working-class chorus. Although
thematically, the move seems rushed, musically, it’s a stronger offering to the
shorter attention span. Race Riot is
much smarter. The Puerto Rican, black and white outfit trades verses that not
only illuminate Boston’s historic segregation, but feature honest barbed bars
of the misinformation each emcee had in his youth, concerning the others. Here,
Stereotypez seems like a fitting
title and the team proves their specialties.
Like Boot Camp Clik’s
The Last Stand, the Special Teamz harvested a who’s-who of
hardcore producers. Main Event
reconnects Edo G and DJ Premier, with fuzzy drums and a
1999-sounding scratch chorus. Boston to
Buckdown does the same with a mosaic Pete
Rock slab of soulful funk. Despite the credentials, more is to be expected
conceptually from the emcees on these cuts. Geography and claiming supremacy
isn’t what made Edo G a star, and it
certainly isn’t going to work for Jaysaun
or Slaine. A cluster of
collaborations still can’t disguise the fact that much of Stereotypez feels like a better-mixed update of their 2005 mixtape
Sometimes being on-point isn’t enough. With a catalogue including
Sayin’ Something and Wishing, Edo G is a go-to voice for more than just bragging. Perhaps trying
to reinvent himself with the group, these messages mostly make way for lyrical
pokes and jabs that won’t K.O. the status-quo. Though there are moments where
the skills give chills, much of the Special
Teamz official debut sounds pretty typical in the stereo.