The LOX have seen their names in the news possibly more in the past year than they have in the last decade. With Jadakiss‘ signing to Roc-A-Fella and the (until recent) persistent confusion over the group’s status over at Interscope, they’ve been a fairly prevalent topic of discussion within Hip Hop circles. Poised to re-establish themselves as a dominant force in Hip Hop, Styles P dropped the solid Super Gangster, Extraordinary Gentleman and the world awaits Jada‘s debut on Def Jam/Roc-A-Fella. In the meanwhile, it’s oft-overlooked LOX member Sheek Louch‘s turn to follow suit with Silverback Gorilla.

The album kicks off with “Think We Got a Problem,” which has its fair share of problems. First, the chopped and screwed hook would’ve fit better later on in the album; as it stands, it sets a tone that’s different from the rest of the album. Second, Sheek is outshined by guests Game and Bun B, who sounds much more comfortable rhyming on the beat. It’s not really a bad song, but it just doesn’t fit where it is.

“Keep Pushin'” is an energetic ode to the grind, as Sheek rhymes with urgency about day-to-day struggles: “But you gotta keep pushin’, you gotta keep whippin’/The landlord called and the babysitter’s flippin’/He ready to drop everything if you thinkin’ bout skippin’/But you strong and you gon’ make it all good/Back to the wall and you gon’ keep it all hood…/If your rent’s due, I wrote this song for you.”

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One of several posse cuts, “D-Block/Dipset” has plenty of swagger and lyrical ferocity as Jim Jones, Styles P, Hell Rell & Jadakiss hop on for the track. None of the emcees disappoint, though it would’ve been nice to see more representation from Dipset. “We At War” succeeds in bringing some Reggae-style grime to the album, though it’s thrown completely off by the insipid “Scrap to This.” Fortunately, this cut is soon forgotten due to the album’s best track, “Don’t Be Them.” On this song, Sheek pleads with up-and-comers to embrace originality, rather than fall victim to the formulaic tendencies that plague Hip Hop today: “Don’t be them, don’t be Jigga, don’t be Nas, don’t be Kim/Don’t be them, don’t be Pac, don’t be Big/Be yourself, forreal homey, you that kid/Don’t be Sheek, don’t be LOX., don’t be P, don’t be Kiss, don’t be Fox/Don’t be 50, don’t be Weezy, don’t be Slim/Be yourself, forreal homey don’t be them.”Sheek even extends the sentiment to other areas of life, making it one of most meaningful songs to come out this year.

Things stay aggressive with the LOX-assisted “Gettin’ Stronger” and “That’s a Soldier,” while “What What” suffers from a weak verse from guest Bully. “We Comin'” and “We Spray Crowds” don’t fare very well due to simplistic rhymes and poorly executed gangsterisms, which illustrates the Sliverback Gorilla‘s glaring weakness – at 18 tracks, it’s just too bloated. There’s plenty of fat that could’ve easily been trimmed, as some of the aforementioned songs fail to meet the lyrical intensity of others. When Sheek is on, the results more than meet the standards that LOX fans are accustomed to. If Silverback Gorilla were cut down to twelve tracks, it could’ve easily been one of the better releases of the year. As it stands, the album is above average, with select moments of greatness.