History In The Making
If J.R. Writer and his camp were steady pushing back History In The Making's release date in an attempt to build up more anticipation for the LP, somebody should've told them it wasn't necessary. The 20-year old mixtape phenom's project has been among Hip Hop's most wanted since the release of Writer's Block 1 in 2004. On that merit alone, he was able to secure a million dollar deal with Asylum earlier this year for his second album. The question is, now that it's all spit, tracked-out, shrink-wrapped, and out of Cam's "not-even-the-press-can-get-an-advance-listen" mighty grip, does he deliver?
First things first: folks have been wondering whether the Dominican Don would be able to churn out a bonafide LP and shake-off the title that has him pegged as little more than the "Stop-N-Go" battle-rapping, prince of punch lines. Well, you can dead your worries about that--truth be told, on the extremely lengthy 19-track LP, the sick punch lines we've become accustomed to hearing from Ryder, as he's affectionately called, are few and far between. Though you'll be glad that he didn't simply rest on the same recipe that makes his mixtapes so ill, and took time to recognize the difference between a solid mixtape and a solid album, one can't help but to feel like there's something uniquely JR missing.
There are gems to be found. The most fertile breeding grounds for that signature Writer wordplay are on "Stomp" and the Dame Grease-produced track, featuring two verses of straight fire, "Zoolander." Spitting bars like; "Your wife countin my cake, her nice mouth on my snake/Watch surrounded by flakes, boy and these rocks are annoyin/I can't keep 'em outta my face, uhh/Who's as icy as me, shit I icicle T's/It's nothing for the stunt and turn your wife to a ski/My chain hang and man she delighted to see/A hundred karats, faggot wrist full of vitamin D." And on the former, "Yo; I'm a menace clown listen now, I grip the pound and get it down/You'll be a missin kitten and sniffin the scent of hound/That leaves the ditch to found, captain is capped, blap blap/Fuck if you new in town, you'll still get around/I keep the addicts in attics while I traffic the order/I done packaged the package then got it back through the border." All the while it's appropriately peppered with the sampled Diddy line "...slow down son, you're killin 'em..." The young Harlemite earns his nickname "The Writer of Writers" and makes us proud.
The Dips have a cult-like following that can't be denied, and those folk will probably see this album as the best thing since, well, Cam's Killa Season. Writer's album will do well because of those die-hard fans. But those of us with a more unbiased ear will pick up on the good and bad elements that leave History In The Making teetering somewhere between "buy that shit" and "burn that shit."
The album begins and ends well; on the first track, "To Be A Diplomat," you learn a lot about the fairly mystical Dipset member as he spits hard in his freestyle-ish flow, taking us step-by-step through his rise to fame: "I battled the best, dazzled the rest to be a (Diplomat)/I done had to tackle some vets/Yes, now it's true indeed who is he (who's he) I got Diplomatic Immunity(uhh)/What can y'all do to me (what)/I wasn't given a set, I had to give 'em my best/They ain't just give me respect or ship me a check (stupid)." The last track, "The Heist," shows off J.R.'s storytelling skills, which are impressive.
In between, you got the definite club heater and second single, "Grill'em." Paul Wall gives a solid verse, as usual (as does Writer), on "It's A Bet." 40 Cal comes half-baked with some wack bread metaphors on "Pay Homage" - not sure why Writer would put that on his album. Production throughout is only so-so; you got the Doe Boyz on "My Life," and Knoxville on "Back Wit It," which features Jim Jones, Freekey Zekey, Killa Cam and Santana. Set it off joint "Riot Pump" deserves an honorable mention; it definitely got wang. But with take 'em or leave 'em's like "Goonies" ft. Jim Jones and Hell Rell, "Put You On," where Writer sounds a bit too much like his mentor, and "Why Try" ft. Sas, which only makes you wonder why they tried. By track 13 or so, you find yourself having reached your limit with Writer's self-absorbed bars.
Don't get me wrong, Writer's album is pretty good; his only problem is that his greatest competition is himself. You can't shine the way that he does on mixtapes and guest spots, and not come with some classic material on your own solo joint. In the end, maybe he's just a victim of overly-high expectations; the downside of building up a ridiculous buzz that sets the bar way high. Overall, Writer doesn't show up on this album the way someone gunning to go down in history should. Is it garbage? Hell no. Could Writer stand to drop the "Cam's light-skinned twin" bit and give us that hot shit he's obviously capable of? Hell yes.