"Onyx is back! / and they can never, ever be wack" is a sung hook, sung by a female singer on the new Onyx LP. Well, I wouldn't say that they are wack but the song is not far from it. Onyx is back. They are no longer on Def Jam. Now signed to Koch Records, they came back with the sequel to their very successful debut LP "Bacdafucup." This LP has gotten horrible reviews by critics as well as die hard Onyx fans. After the incredible Sticky Fingaz solo album or the last very dense Onyx LP ("Shut Em Down"), this album does seem somewhat lazy and sloppy.
Sticky Fingaz is the crown jewel of the crew. Fredro Star and Sonsee all bring the ruckus and maintain the wild energy but this crew (and this album) would be nothing without Sticky. He steals the show on every single song. The single "Slam Harder" (the obvious sequel to their popular "Slam") is one of the best tracks on the LP. Produced by D.R. Period (known for M.O.P.'s "How About Some Hardcore"), this is an extremely energetic track that uses an odd sample of the theme from the TV show "Welcome Back Kotter." The scratching is a nice touch along with the call-response hook. Still, Sticky rips the track with the final verse.
There are three deep mid-tempo songs that hit hard even though they are not very energetic. "Hold Up," (the only song produced by Havoc) is another dope cut. Even though the beat sounds kind of like a sloppy Havoc throw-a-way beat, it still works since it adds to the grimy vibe of Onyx. It's definitely good to see Onyx hooking up with Mobb Deep. Let's hope this is not the last time. "Feel Me," produced by Davinci, was recorded on Sept. 11th. It is a very somber and depressing song reminding me of the dark atmosphere on "All We Got Iz Us". It's a very emotional cut and that is why it works. "Hood Beef", produced by Self, is not as good as the previous 2 tracks but does have that sinister Onyx feel. It's all about "Hood Beef" where people will kidnap your kids and kill your loved ones if you have beef with people in the ghetto. This track is also reminiscent of the dark vibes of "All We Got Iz Us."
Like M.O.P., Onyx is known for the extreme energy in their tracks. "Slam Harder" is the most energetic but there are two more energetic tracks which are also dope. "Bring Em Out Dead", produced by D.R. Period, captures the feeling of the first "Bacdafucup" LP. The chanting and background yelling, along with an ill deep horn makes this an extremely wild song. The opening cut, "What's Onyx," produced by Davinci, opens the album with a riot-starting vibe. You know it's an Onyx album as soon as you hear Sticky yell "What's the problem!?!" The beat does pound hard with the background orchestra-loop. Basically, they tell the listener what Onyx is.
There is one interesting track that is right on the borderline of good and bad. "Gangsta", featuring X-1 and Platinum Plus, was produced by D.R. Period. This is basically a sequel to the song "Gangsta B*tch." It's about having a girlfriend or wife who truly keeps it "gully". The beat and the verses are all typical Onyx but the sung hook is very simple.
Unfortunately, the rest of the album seriously lacks in creativity, beats and their original charisma. "Bang 2 Dis" is an attempt to be an anthem but falls flat. They even spell their name in the hook. Sticky does do a little interpolation of Black Sheep's "The Choice Is Yours" which is cool. It's a pure filler track. "Big Trucks", produced by DR Period, is a horrible song dedicated to people drive big trucks. Sticky handles the hook in his deep voice but since he's talking about driving a truck, it's hard to really get into this track. The falsetto line in the hook "This is strictly for big trucks!" gets annoying since it's sung in such a high voice. "Clap And Rob Em'" produced by Ant Boogie, is another horrible track. This uses an interpolation of "Rockin' Robbin" but instead they yell "Clap & Rob em!" The very cheesy synth beat and keyboard melody only makes the track worse. Then there's "Wet The Club", produced by Scott Storch, which is just a dumb attempt at a rowdy club anthem. Basically, the theme of the track is not shooting up the club but stealing bottles from the bar and spraying everyone with them.
Overall, this is a disappointing album especially compared to the amazing Sticky Fingaz solo LP the previous Onyx "Shut Em Down" LP. It's also extremely short. Out of the twelve songs, six of them are dope, one of them is decent and the rest are just bad. I was always an Onyx fan and especially a fan of Sticky Fingaz. He's the one who carries the album. Sure, Sonsee and Fredro Star do maintain the crazy and grimy energy but Sticky Fingaz steals the show on every track. Even the bad tracks become somewhat decent because of Sticky's verses. The main problem with the album is not only the length but the production, the laziness and the themes. I love the other Onyx albums because of the grimy ghetto stories and energetic anthems of beating people down. Here, there are no "Rob & Vic" or "Veronica" story-telling tracks. One anthem of beating people up becomes corny with "Clap And Rob Em." Luckily, we still have "Bring Em Out Dead" and "Slam Harder." Other themes of champagne and riding big trucks do bring the album down. Before, Onyx were broke and extremely hungry. They sounded like they would kill anybody for money. Now, they are rich and have movie deals. They are riding big trucks and pouring champagne on each other. It's a different Onyx no matter how much they say that they are the same. Overall, this is for the die hard Onyx fans. If you do not have the other Onyx albums, this is not the one to start with.