Lake f. Cormega
My Brother's Keeper
We could talk for days about monster artists who have gone back to the hood to get their boys. Sometimes it has lead to rock solid catalogues (i.e. Beanie Sigel), other times, culturally iconic phenomena (see: 50 Cent and the Guerrilla Unit), and, on occasion, things were unfortunately... a little 'bleek'. But the fact remains, it happens. Everyone needs help, and as we've all heard before, "It's not what you know, but who you know." That being said, I give you My Brother's Keeper, recorded by Lake featuring Cormega. That tagline alone should tell you what's up - a relatively famous emcee trying to make his unknown friend known.
You should know who Corey is; you should know he's from Queensbridge, you should know the stories about him and Nasir, and most of all, you should know how dope The Realness, The Testament, and The True Meaning all are. But who's Lake? The truth is, I didn't know before I heard this record. I didn't know he was on God's Son, yet this was still a highly anticipated album for me. Mission accomplished. The fact that it actually says featuring Cormega in the title still cracks me up. Genius move, especially considering the unquestioned street cred these two bring. But I've rambled enough, let's get on with it.
Standing 14 tracks tall with four skits, the record is dope. When you have Ski supplying the record opener "Ghetto," and DJ Premier behind the all-Mega closer "Dirty Game," you know you're in store for something real. Long-time Mega producer Jay 'Waxx' Garfield's responsible for three monster beats, and proves he can spin a soulful sample as good as anyone with "Q.U. Side" featuring Mr. Cheeks, "Hood Legends," and "Dirty NY." The latter a gem which Fat Joe jumps on to vent about something that's been depressingly true for a good number of years - that no one's really been representing New York with pride - at least not like it used to be. And to my pleasant surprise, Cormega, with the help of Waxx, gets his producer's hat on with one of my favorite beats of the year with "Don't Start."
On the lyrical side of things, it starts off a little rough. It's pretty ridiculous how badly Cormega destroys Lake on the first two joints - the aforementioned "Ghetto," and Ax The Bull's "The Oath," but thankfully, Lake more than mans up for the rest of the 12 tracks, making sure you know this is a Lake record and not a joint that Corey had to save from obscurity. The five Cormega-less tracks are solid, and two in particular - introspective "Walk through Heaven" done by Get Large and the street-real "Stress & Greed," produced by Jay Boy, are absolute beasts. He's got the range, the wit and the hunger - he just needs to tighten his flow and switch it up every once in a while - but the fact remains, Lake can rhyme.
If there's one big discrepancy with this album, it's "Snitch Nigga." It's produced by D.I.T.C.'s Buckwild, and Lake and Cormega both rip it apart, but the beat's been used before. Not just by another emcee, which happens, but it's the same exact beat off The True Meaning's "A Thin Line." It's not really a bad thing since the song is dope. It's just fucking weird.
Underlying everything else is a rock solid record. It does have its low's but they're still pretty good, and the highs are fucking fantastic. With more than a steady debut album, a record I'm sure QB Hip Hop has been thirsting for. Lake is here, and I for one hope Death Row East knows what to do with him. Corey McKay can keep schoolin' him so that Lake won't be another artist who's "one hit away his whole career."