There is some Southern hip-hop that is not typical bounce music. Groups like Outkast, Goodie Mob and others have distinguished themselves as being very unique while maintaining their Southern roots. Young Bleed first came in on the scene with Master P and No Limit Records due to his hit "How Ya Do That". His first album "My Balls & My Word" was unique compared to the other No Limit releases but still was somewhat typical of the Southern hip-hop of that time. After leaving No Limit and just sticking with Priority, Young Bleed released the incredible (and almost perfect) album titled "My Own". This was an extremely unique LP filled with vintage grooves reminiscent of the "Superfly" soundtrack by Curtis Mayfield. Young Bleed is back and not even affiliated with his other crew Concentration Camp anymore. Going by the name Young Bleed Carleone and with his new label Da'Tention Home Records, Bleed released his new album "Vintage". While "My Own" had a complete vintage feel to it, the "Vintage" LP also has this feel but it is not as abundant. Actually, the 2 LPs should have switched titles. "My Own" has an extreme vintage feel while "Vintage" is Young Bleed completely on his own label. Along with the cool packaging (an old portrait) and smooth pimped out/smoked out flows, Young Bleed and Da Crime Lab created a very dope album.
"Murderous" (produced by LoKee and featuring Da' Chicago Trybune) is the best track on the album. Clocking in at a little over 11 minutes, this is a theme song for a smoked out pimp / hustler riding through the ghetto streets. The first half is Bleed flowing over a mid-tempo stone groove inspired by Curtis Mayfield. This is an anthem for hustlers, murderers, pimps, and other people who are making achievements in the underworld. It's not about flash either. Instead of jewelry and champge, Bleed rhymes about murder, hustling and the fierce action of hustling. The hook is handled by Bleed with a graceful yet sinister authority: "…It's like the people / The places / The herbs and thangs / Keep the sun shining down on my pinky ring / Do just 'bout anything just to make a profit, see / Player hated but you know you can't stop it, n*gga!..." Bleed's verses are extremely smooth and flawless. The 2nd half of the track is a jam session with live instrumentation. Harold Cowart's bass line is incredible along with excellent guitar work and piano work by the other musicians. The live trumpet and piano literally glides over the rim shot beat. While some may think the track is too long for a hip-hop album, music lovers (especially lovers of the 70's Blaxploitation film scores) will cherish this track. It's a modern classic. "Whatcha'll Mean" (featuring Da' Barber Shop Quar'Tech, Lokee and Blazzak Man) is another stand-out cut. The slow tempo and the gospel-inspired vocals in the background give this song a deep Southern feel. Bleed again delivers his smoked-out/pimped-out flow with a grace and ease. The first real opening song "Tribal X'istance" (produced by LoKee) is another mellow cut that has a smooth chopped up piano loop. Without a catchy hook, Bleed rides the beat and may even go over the listener's head. It's a very cool opening track. "…What makes the sky high / What makes the sea blue? / Between the valley, from the alley, I can see you / Would that make us Hebrew? The descendants of Abraham / I don't understand, but here I am / A Sun of man..." It is Young Bleed's flow and delivery along with his voice that makes his music so damn cool. By image, you would not think so, but his lyrics are much more deep and profound that the typical Southern rapper.
The first single "N' Dis World" (produced by Main Street Music) is the shortest and most upbeat track on the LP and has a somewhat generic Spanish influence. With a Spanish guitar loop and generic keyboard melody sounds, the actual drum track and Bleed's performance is what makes this a cool song. "It's like the sun don't shine… without the rain…" Bleed's energy and charisma is what makes this track work.
Guests are all over this album. His new label, Da'Tention Home Records has a myriad of artists that Bleed fans have not heard yet. "Out Dat Dirty" (featuring Last Level Carleone & Lil Tyrant) is cool track with a thick Southern bounce feel that was evident in "My Balls & My Word" LP. "…That's why a n*gga don't die / We multiply / Why ask why? / When you know that sh*t / Roll it up so we can smoke that sh*t / And blow that sh*t…" The beat pounds along and will have anybody bouncing regardless of where you are from. "Kisses N'Hugs" (produced by Lokee) features many people from Bleed's crew like Lucky Knuckles, Last Level, Lokee and others. Clocking in at around 6 minutes long, this is the only track that does drag because the other emcees do not have the incredible flow or delivery that Bleed possesses. "…I'd like to send this out with kisses and hugs / Pistols and slugs / B*tches and drugs…" Lokee's beat is very addictive since it has a simple yet effective keyboard melody and that Southern bounce quality. The only things that drag this song down are the other emcees and the fact that the track is a little too long. "Bleed N' Tyme" features All Star and Lee Tyme. The song has a fierce energy and sinister sentiments that deal with guns and murder. Baton Rouge is not a joke and this gritty track displays how dangerous and deadly a place it can be.
While a majority of the album is very well done, there a few little sections where the album drags. First, "Kisses N Hugs" is a little too long and the other emcees do not have the attention-grabbing quality or the smooth persona that Bleed has. Second, the intro and the outro are far too long. The intro, called "Born Kings" features Uncle Pauly talking over a G-Phinizee beat. This 5 minute long track is great for the first half but then gets very redundant. Pauly tells us a poignant story of talking to an elderly person. The track should have been cut in half because the 2nd half does not have that poignant or special quality. "Out Da Windo'" (produced by LoKee) is the outro which features Da Crime Lab just yelling and talking over the "Kisses N Hugs" beat. This track also clocks in at a little over 5 minutes and should also have been cut in half. "Da Don" (produced by LoKee) is a cool track but has very simple hook that weakens the track. Young Bleed rocks some very cool verses with nice flows but the beat is slightly weak along with the basic hook: "…I'm the don-don / N*gga the don, don! /Who? The don-don…" This track is very reminiscent of Bleed's days with No Limit Records. Finally, the one and only skit "Da Indo Mission" is pointless but it is short enough that it does not disrupt the LP.
Overall, Young Bleed has created a very good follow up to the modern classic "My Own". Even though "My Own" has more of a 'vintage' quality than the "Vintage" LP, this album is very strong due to both Bleed's performance and the exceptional music behind him. While Bleed could have just made typical Southern bounce music, he chooses to give his album a classic quality. The stand-out track "Murderous" is one of the best Young Bleed tracks I have ever heard. Along with "Whatchall' Mean", and "Tribal X'istence", the album feels very much complete. The only thing that brings the album down is Young Bleed's guest emcees and the intro and outro. While most of the songs are 5 minutes or longer, the songs on "Vintage" need to be appreciated. These are not just singles for radio airplay or clubs. This is a complete album with little filler. With much of the production handled by LoKee and Da Crime Lab, the old school 70's Blaxploitation theme music vibe of "My Own" is still there but not as much. Also, all of the guests are unknown crew members from Young Bleed's new label. Where his last 2 albums had guests like Daz Dillinger, Too Short, Mystikal and others, the most famous guest is Harold Cowart who played with many famous bands in the 70's. While "Vintage" does not have the modern classic status of "My Own", it is much more coherent, complete and original than "My Balls & My Word". Young Bleed is now free and doing things his own way. Years from now, lovers of creative Southern hip-hop and 70's Blaxploitation film themes may look at Young Bleed Carleone's "Vintage" as an album that has that classic quality.