Back in the year 2000, J-Zone released his critically acclaimed sophomore album "A Bottle Of Whup Ass", in which this very site (formally Tha-Real) hailed it as a classic, propelling a lot of hype for J-Zone. Ever since then J-Zone has been one of the most revered and sought after artists in the underground scene. His follow up album "Pimps Don't Pay Taxes" solidified him as not just one of the underground's finest producers, but one of the industry's elite. But what makes Zone so appealing to a broad audience is the simplicity to his game. J-Zone speaks about real life occurrences that the everyday person can relate to. Whether it's his usual pimped out tales of womanizing, getting fucked up or just plain fooling around, its something most of us can relate to more than the usual thug antics floating around the industry today. This usual trend and formula once again continues on J-Zone's fourth LP "$ick Of Being Rich".
Just as his three previous releases did, "$ick Of Being Rich" builds on the premise each previous album developed. Lyrically or conceptually nothing has changed for Zone since his last album, which is what makes "$ick Of Being Rich" the success it is. Those expecting to see Zone grow and mature, changing up his topics and mentality definitely need a backhand to the face. J-Zone is known for his goofy antics on the mic and that will never change, like it or not. On "$ick Of Being Rich" Zone still addresses the same topics we all loved him for from the get go.
"Bling Around The Collar" is dedicated to all those thugs out there will their fake jewelry, as even Zone admits himself "I got a confession to make, I be rocking fake ass jewelry, fake chains and all that shit since I was fourteen". The track's production continues the trend of spectacular production, as Zone's production is always new and innovative. The nice vocal sample laced by Zone especially makes the track special. One of the funniest tracks on the album is "Whiplash", where Zone tells the tale of a pussy whipped guy and a dick whipped female who end up dissing their crew for their new found love. I doubt there is anybody out there that hasn't experience the "Pimpotent" syndrome, either from the sidelines or from personal experience.
But what would be a J-Zone album without tales of slutty woman and sexual episodes. "Steady Hoggin" is dedicated to all those big boned girls not afraid to show a little skin. "Too Many Babies" is the biggest change for Zone on the album, as the "Tom Jones" of rap actually sings a nice song dedicated to those woman out there with way "Too Many Babies". The tracks production is one of the finest featured on the album, as Zone does a nice job pulling off the different vibe. "Ho Kung Fu" was a previously released cut but still sounds as good as it did the first time. The storytelling track is your typical Zone tale with a nice Asian influence production.
Probably the biggest surprise on "$ick Of Being Rich" is the high profile guest appearances gathered for the album. While fellow Old Maid Billionaire Al Shid drops by for "38th & 8th", the rest of the guest appearances come from outside sources such as Copywrite, Masta Ace, J-Ro & King T. "Gimme, Gimme, Gimme" featuring Masta Ace is a solid attempt to bring the two artist's world together, no matter how different they are. Ace slows down his flow heavily in order to blend with Zone's production, but the track still ends up as a highlight. "Choir Practice" featuring J-Ro of Tha Liks and West Coast veteran King T is an even better attempt that ends up being a really nice West Coast influenced track. We all know Zone is a big fan of West Coast Hip-Hop and "Choir Practice" does a nice job of brining that vibe on a J-Zone album. However, the same cannot be said of the sub par collaboration between Zone & Copywrite on "Prima Donna". Zone is widely known to just saying "no" to battle raps, so he lets Copy go all out on the track, but it's a sound we have all hear before. Copy's repetitive battle raps tend to get boring after awhile and "Prima Donna" is a prime example of that.
Production wise "$ick Of Being Rich" might very well be Zone's most consistent and well-crafted effort yet. Zone has mastered the art of sampling odd records, making his production the most original around, point blank. His production sound is distinct, but always fresh, new and innovative. Need any proof take for example the sounds of "The Commandments", "Bling Around The Collar", "Fuck You Pay Me" & "5 Star Hooptie", enough said. And as Zone said himself, "I never had the money to buy expensive records to sample, so I used what I could afford". A lot of producers can take a page out of Zone's book, as its not always what you sample but what you do with the sounds given.
While many have criticized Zone for sticking to the same old formula for "$ick Of Being Rich", those that appreciate what Zone has to offer will love this album. The beauty in "$ick Of Being Rich" is its ability to keep churning out that distinct J-Zone sound without getting boring or stale after awhile. The production is top notch, the lyricism is hilarious as always and the feeling is just down right good. Sometimes we as listeners take albums too seriously. "$ick Of Being Rich" is one of those albums that is intended to lighten the mood and for you to have fun with. If you have been a J-Zone fan since day one, Zone's fourth installment will do more than fulfill your needs. And if you still haven't jumped on the J-Zone bandwagon, now is a good time, because who knows how long J-Zone the emcee is gonna be around.