Smif N Wessun

The Album

posted November 01, 2007 01:03:02 PM CDT | 21 comments

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Bucktown...Home of the original gun clappers was one of the most recognizable phrases of '95, so it was no surprise that Smif N Wessun also became one of that year's most prominent acts. Along with the rest of the BCC, they remained as a staple for griminess way before the gentrification of Hip-Hop. But just as the rest of the crew, due to various circumstances including the rise of shiny suit music, they lost steam around the second album and seem to have been fighting their way back since then.

They offer their fourth release, The Album, which seems to be completely different then anything else in their existing catalog. The most obvious difference is the production. You won't find any Evil Dee & Mr. Walt reunions going on here. Not even a track from their newfound J-League fam (Khrysis, 9th, etc.) Instead, all the soundscaping is handled by Ken Ring, Tommy Tee, Collen & Webb and several other producers from abroad. This time they took the BK Connection to Sweden.

This album is much darker than any of the others but still has the Tek & Steele feel to it. It starts off slow with See The Light but picks up quickly with Gotta Say It which gives us the feel-good vibe of the era in which the duo was most popular. They slow things down a little after that and give us a couple of 07 updates on 95 favorites. K.I.M. 2000 and PNC 4 Life do not quite live up to the original efforts from Dah Shinin' but stand alone in their own category. Stomp Thru brings us back to the Boot Camp with assistance from Rockness himself on the hook and, one of the most promising up and comers to bless the scene in a while, Joell Ortiz, who takes time off from his new Aftermath home to jump on the track with his hometown heroes. He drops two verses and comes through on the second sounding like a rejuvenated Royal Flush and boasts "Ma I'm so gutter/no sister, no brother/one mother, no father, no problem, oh brother," (can you say dead in the middle of Little Italy?).

The Album has much more range and depth than most offer at this point in Hip-Hop. Who Gonna Save Us and Still Fighting find the Cocoa Brovaz dealing with political and community issues but not in a preaching, so-called conscious manner and still not in a gun clapping fashion either. Movie has the group intertwining motion picture scenarios with real life while S.T. borrows a line from the American Gangsta himself and let's us know It's not a movie dog. It's more like a documentary. The most entertaining track would have to be Can't Stop where the BCC Alumni put us up on their hustle in the dice game, "Street Life I'ma survive/hustlin is my 9 to 5/oh no, you can never stop my money."

While this album may be lacking the classic grit and aggression that helped to make their collective famous, it definitely shows growth artistically and personally. They still carry the signature BCC humor and deliver a solid release. The production does the trick for the most part, but rarely stands out to make this more than just a good album. Many of our championed artists have grown up and this is something we will continue to see, but we can't help but wonder if we will ever get back that chemistry that was seen with Black Moon, Fab 5 and of course with help from The Beatminerz.

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