It is a beautiful thing when dope hip-hop crews come back and reclaim their thrown the proper way. Boot Camp Clik and Duck Down Records have been through some very hard times with luke-warm reviews and sales on their sophomore albums (even though I loved them), the loss of Rock (1/2 of Heltah Skeltah), and the end of their contract with Priority Records. Still, they have redeemed themselves with the excellent Boot Camp Clik sophomore LP "The Chosen Few". During this time, they have been releasing singles galore. "Collect Dis Edition" is a collection of these singles and other un-released tracks from the Duck Down catalog. This is what "Duck Down Presents…" (released in 1999) should have been. The LP is filled with dope lyrics, dope beats, good production, a variety of themes, and no corny R&B hooks. Unlike the previous Duck Down family releases, the core members (Cocoa Brovaz, Buckshot, OGC, and Heltah Skeltah) dominate the album. The 2nd generation or the new emcees act only as guests and do not have their own songs. Still, Buckshot and Cocoa Brovaz dominate the album's time while Starang and Ruck contribute incredible performances.
The LP is instantly gratifying. Produced by Da Beatminerz, "Rush" by Black Moon kicks the album off with a fierce energy. Lyrically and delivery-wise, Buckshot is in classic form as he demands the people to "Rush!" Da Beatminerz' production is thick and could start a riot at almost any venue. Beats like this put Swizz Beats to shame. "What's Poppin" by Boot Camp Click was produced by DJ Da Boy and is another great track. The bouncy beat along with some cool turntablism (in the beginning), is complemented by a very cool hook by Tek. It is a catchy track with a dope verse by Ruck in the middle. Produced by Coptic, "I Realize" by Boot Camp Clik closes the album in a perfect and poignant way. Reminiscent of Kanye West's use of vocal samples, "I Realize" uses a beautiful vocal sample for the hook along with an emotional beat. It is the perfect way to end this classic album. Every emcee does an amazing job on the mic too. Louieville kicks it off with a wonderful flow as Steele takes care of the hook that is complemented with the vocal sample. The true jewel of the song is Buckshot's storytelling verse about relationships. This is a perfect track. Da Beatminerz also produce the extremely revolutionary "Fire Burn" by Boot Camp Clik. Steele truly steals the track with his reggae-influenced chanted hook about slavery and the rising of African Americans in America. The slow and hypnotic beat is incredibly moving. Another revolutionary track is the Bucktown USA produced "No Justice No Peace" by Cocoa Brovaz. Here, Cocoa B'z attack police brutality. (This was released around the time Amadou Diallo was murdered). Rustee Juxx does shine along with Tek on "Mastered The Style" (produced by Steele). Juxx is an emcee that BCC fans should look out for. Also, "Love Em Or Leave Em Alone" (produced by Knobody) has a cool guitar sample and a smooth sung line in the hook. The upbeat production along with the smooth deliveries from the emcees (especially Tek) make this a cool track regarding the female species.
Incredible solo tracks force the listener to yearn for the upcoming BCC solo albums. Ruck has 2 Agallah-produced solo tracks that standout. "Don't Say Sh*t To Ruck" is a monster of a track. Ruck does not BS and rips the mic from the first breath: "…You will never see me sober / See me on corner with street soldiers /Heat Holders / Weed Blowers / straight livin la vida loca!…" Ruck has never been more aggressive. The hook is gets even more crazy. It's hilarious and hardcore too. Ruck's final verse is so intricate, so raw, and so hardcore, that it will blow the minds of Heltah Skeltah fans old and new. Agallah's uses a triumphant sounding loop that will leave crate-diggers wondering where he found it. Beats like this put Dame Grease and Swizz Beats to shame. "Tele Mundo" is another adrenaline-filled track where Ruck rocks the mic. It is a shame that it is cut off after 2 minutes. Starang Wondah also contributes 2 amazing tracks that are both produced by Black Market (who produced "Bounce To The Ounce" and "Sometimey" from the last O.G.C. LP). First, "That's What's Up" is a very cool track where Starang's magnificent flow is truly the soul of the song. "The Game" is another dope track where Starang flexes his gifted story-telling abilities. Reggae tracks have always been a BCC staple and Tek's solo joint "All Massive" (produced by Ayatollah) is perfectly executed. Tek's flow and mixture of reggae and rap is flawless. The song is excellent and displays Tek's charisma. Buckshot has a terrific solo cut on "The Real" (produced by M-Boogie). The scratched hook is not only well done, but very energized, as Buckshot truly rocks the mic.
Some songs are well done but just do not hit as hard as the others. Produced by Da Beatminerz, "Smile In Heaven" by Boot Camp Clik (featuring Twanie Ranks) is a song about fallen comrades and the fragility of life. It is basically a remix of "You're Not Sure To See Tomorrow" from O.G.C.'s sophomore album. Ranks actually sings the same exact hook. Buckshot and Tek does add to the strong lyrical content about loved ones who passed away. It is a good track but does not hit as hard as some of the others. "You Could Get Shot" by Buckshot was produced by Bucktown USA (Steele's production company). While the beat with the guitar loop create an eerie atmosphere, Buckshot's chanted hook does not have the same energy or strength as his other solo cuts on the album.
While all the songs range from decent to perfect, some good tracks feel out of place. "Last Bref" produced and performed by Masta Ace is included for some strange reason. Even though it is a very cool song with a sinister vibe, the Buckshot and Masta Ace collaboration "Brooklyn Blocks" should have been included instead simply because of the straight involvement with BCC members. "Last Bref" does not have any BCC emcees (or even producers) on it. "D&D Soundclash" features Afu-Ra, Cocoa Brovaz, and Jah Dan. This old track was on Afu-Ra's debut solo album. Produced by Da Beatminerz, this song has wonderful performances and a stoned-out reggae vibe but it is old and has been released before. There are so many other songs that could have been included. Where's "Solidify" by Ruck? Where is "Brooklyn Blocks" by Masta Ace and Buckshot? Where's "Super Brooklyn" or "More Fire" by Cocoa Brovaz? Where is "Strike It Rich" by MS and Starang? Where's "Fall Back" by Rustee Juxx? And especially, where is "Cabbin Stabbin" by Top Dog and Phife Dawg?!?!?
Overall, "Collect Dis Edition" by Duck Down Records and Boot Camp Clik is a modern classic compilation. Most hip-hop compilations are very poor. (Even the "Duck Down Presents" compilation was weak on BCC standards). Still, there is not one poor track on the entire compilation LP. While some songs are stronger than others, all of them can stand strong by themselves and at the same time, they all come together to create a magnificent compilation. Some minor problems exist. First, Buckshot and Cocoa Brovaz dominate the album. Ruck and Starang both have 2 solo tracks but should have been involved more in the other songs too. Second, some older songs (like "D&D Soundclash") should have been left out and replaced with rare singles like "Cabbin Stabbin" by Top Dog and Phife Dawg. Third, even though the Masta Ace solo track is dope, there could have been a great BCC 12" song in its place. Still, Duck Down Records have so many beautiful songs that it is extremely hard to pick only a few. Basically, the best performances on the mic come from Buckshot, Ruck, Starang and Tek. Steele does do justice to the mic too. Da Beatminerz are back in action and work perfectly with BCC. The fans may now rejoice! Black Market, Agallah, and Coptic work well with BCC too. BCC is standing strong! Seriously, Rock of Heltah Skeltah is missing out. Even though I miss him, BCC can stand strong without him. "Collect Dis Edition" is not a Boot Camp Clik album. It's more of a Duck Down Records compilation and a supplement LP for Boot Camp Clik's "The Chosen Few". Basically, Boot Camp Clik and Duck Down Records have redeemed themselves with "The Chosen Few". The release of "Collect Dis Edition" tells everyone that they are here to stay and that they have the power to continually release quality material. This compilation makes BCC fans seriously hungry for future releases (especially Ruck and Starang's solo LPS). This LP is filled with contemporary hip-hop classics. Fans of Duck Down Records and Boot Camp Clik must "Collect Dis".