The year was 1994; one of the biggest year's hip-hop has ever witnessed. It was the year of "Illmatic", "Southerplayalistic", and "Ready to Die". However, in the mix of these classic albums, one album was quietly overlooked: O.C.'s "Word….Life". O.C.'s classic debut album quickly started a stir in the underground scene that would catapult the Brooklyn native emcee into hip-hop's elite. O.C.'s smooth flow combined with his witty and hard-core lyrics made him an instant underground favorite. In 1997 O.C. dropped his sophomore release "Jewelz", and like his previous effort it was a certified underground classic. This highly acclaimed album was highlighted by joints such as the successful lead single "Far From Yours" and the DJ Premier laced "My World". Even though O.C.'s first two albums were critically acclaimed, they both failed to go close to gold status. After departing with his record label, O.C. has returned from a 4-year hiatus with his third album "Bon Appetit".
With O.C.'s third release we would expect more from the same on "Bon Appetit". However, that is not the case. On "Bon Appetit" we are introduced to a different O.C. than we are accustomed to. Surprisingly O.C. goes in an unfamiliar direction, a more commercial and jiggy feel. With most of the production handled by fellow D.I.T.C. member Bucwild the beats on "Bon Appetit" are disappointing to say the least. Along with unusually sloppy lyrics from O.C. , the album is almost a completely different look from his previous works.
Tracks such as "Back to Cali", "Bon Appetit" and "Week & Drinks" are perfect examples of rushed lyrics and uninspired production. Lazy lyrics are something we would not expect from veteran emcee. " As a young lad I used to eat my mush, now I'm older baby pa, so they call me mush. Come stepping In my face and get straight up mushed". Even when Bucwild hook's O.C. up with a good beat; the lyrics don't seem to match the tracks intensity. "They say tigers never change their strips, whoever said it was right?". Unfortunately it does get worse for O.C. The dirty south-inspired "Bounce Mission" is almost to the point of unbearable. Along with "Paradise", where we witness O.C. spitting about cars, women and jewelz.
However, there is some light at the end of the tunnel. We do get traces of O.C.'s old self with tracks such as the storytelling "Doin Dirt" and "Respect The Drop". These two tracks show vintage O.C. as his best, depicting the streets and its harsh reality. On the album's bonus track "Bonified" with Jay-z we are treated to a lyrical feast by O.C., while his fellow Brooklyn Emcee Jay-z spits the hook. "Bonified" is a prime example that O.C. is still capable of making street enthused tracks with lyrical fire. The standout track on "Bon Appetit" is the Big L dedication "Psalm 23". Even though O.C. only drops one verse its is definitely a memorable one. " I recall getting real hot the night you died, the 2nd month in the year, the 15th day, the night the earth cried".
While the change in direction on "Bon Appetit" may turn many O.C. fans away, O.C. still remains one of New York's finest underground emcees. If you can get past Bon Appetit's initial disappointment and its jiggy feel the album becomes more enjoyable with every listen. The hype for this album was so big maybe there was never a chance for it to be like its predecessors. Still there are questions to be asked such as why was the DJ Premier laced "Half Good, Half Sinner" left off the album. Nevertheless after two underground classic albums that barely went gold combined, can you blame O.C. for trying something new?