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 introduction.
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.