Sometimes, incredible emcees have less-than-incredible albums. It's a fact in hip-hop. Many times, the album is a result from a new self-produced sound, a move to a different indie label, or a move to another part of the country. In the case of Sticky Fingaz, his new album "Decade" has quite a few self-produced beats. He also moved from Universal Records to D3 Entertainment. Finally, his album has a more West-Coast sound to it in some places. Sticky Fingaz went Hollywood. He recorded "Decade" while making his new TV show "Platinum" for UPN. "Decade" is not necessarily a bad album, it's just a disappointment compared to the modern classic solo debut "Black Trash". After "Black Trash", Onyx reformed and released the very poor "Bacdafucup Part II". Sticky's new album takes the same route but the lyrics and Sticky's performances save the LP from being a failure. "Decade" shows us a very different Sticky Fingaz. While the fans are not only used to yelling and grimey / violent songs with very astute observations and sharp intellect, Sticky's voice is very low on many tracks. He's not yelling and screaming anymore. Still, the sinister feel is evident. Also, the songs (both in beat and lyrics) are not dirty and grimey like older Onyx tracks. There's a much more polished and glossy sound in both the beats and the themes. While "Black Trash" had production by DJ Scratch, Rockwilder, Shamello & Buddah, Self and Nottz, "Decade" has production by Sticky Fingaz, Scott Storch himself as well as complete unknowns like Porky, Bird, S-Man, and Goldstein. While "Black Trash" had incredible guest performances by Redman, Canibus, Rah Digga, Raekwon, and Eminem, "Decade" has some guest appearances by X-1 (Sticky's brother), Omar Epps (from the movies), EST, Geneveese, Lex & Thirty and Columbo. "Decade" is nowhere as deep, thought-out or intellectual as "Black Trash" was. The themes range from partying, street life, women, and money. Basically, "Decade" is saved by Sticky's charisma and energy on the mic. Still, even with the problems, he brings personality to every track.
The "Intro" can give you the perfect idea of what the LP is like. Produced by S-Man, the "Intro" is basically just Sticky getting furious over a decent but simple (independent label-sounding) beat. He dedicates the LP to Jam Master Jay and remarks that he's going to "celebrate his life". Then he gets furious because so many of his heroes have been taken away from him. You can hear him breaking stuff in the background. It truly sums up the LP because even though it's somewhat useless and the beat is nothing special, you have to love Sticky's love for Jam Master Jay and his dedication. It is honest, it is real, and most of all, filled with passion.
The best songs have Sticky Fingaz either being his old-self or bringing a sinister energy that he is known for. "Shot Up" (produced by Porky) is one of the most energetic and sinister tracks on the album. While it is not as creative as "My Dogs Iz My Gunz", Sticky brings his deadly energy and reminds the listener that no one is safe from getting gunned down. Sticky paints a vivid picture of the violent outcome from gunplay: "…You never saw the n*gga's face that was holding the glock / You just heard shots then, the n*gga next to you dropped / Until you see blood, you ain't even know you got popped / First your body temperature changed from cold to hot…" The hook is sinister and perfect for Sticky's album. "Another Nigguh" (produced by DSP) is a short track with light electro beeps and blips in the background. Sticky's performance is the jewel of the song. His voice is evil sounding and low for a majority of the song but then, he starts yelling and demanding attention. It's a dope song. "Suicide Letter" (produced by S-Man) is an extremely dark track that Sticky fans will love. Sticky truly goes to a dark place: "...If you're reading this, I'm probably dead by now / I probably OD'd or put 3 in my head by now / On the balcony alone, nobody here to stop me / I should film this leap and send Banned From TV a copy / I'm sick of this world and everything that comes with it / Death, life, politics, religion, f*ck all of it!..." The only problem with the song is the sung hook by some un-credited female singer. S-Man's production is dark with simple and low piano loops and an eerie light orchestra background. Lyrically, it is the illest track on the LP. "Caught In The Game" (produced by Sticky Fingaz) has that older Onyx energy. Sticky sings the first part of the hook but then starts yelling for the second half. It works very well. Sticky's verses also have an intense energy with this enormous hunger that can get coma patients amped. Sticky's beat works well due to hard-hitting drums and a rolling (yet simple) melody. It is a great track but there is an un-credited emcee on the mic.
Some tracks are not incredible but have very good qualities. Most of the tracks on "Decade" can be placed in this category. The first single "Can't Call It" (produced by Scott Storch) is a perfect example. The Timbaland-esque beat flows as Sticky's low talking verses go for a sexier vibe. (Picture Busta Rhyme's vocal change when he did "Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Can See"). Sticky rides the track with a professional ease and even lets his rowdy side sneak out every once in a while. Still, he comes back to his deep, low talking rap. It's pure club / girl track. Missy Elliot's voice is used for the hook: "… Why you always up in the club? - (I can't call it) / Why are n*ggas always showing you love? - (I can't call it)…" At first listen, Sticky fans may be turned off but given a chance, the track works very well. The opening track "Let's Do It" (features X1 and Columbo) may also put some Sticky fans off but it is a good song. Produced by S-Man, "Let's Do It" has that California voice-box/vocoder sound that Roger Troutman & Zapp originated and Dr. Dre made so popular in "California Love". Sticky does an excellent job on the song but only rocks the first verse in his new low/talking voice. X1 and Columbo are nowhere near as good on the mic as Sticky. X1 even handles the hook. Still, Columbo does give a very energetic performance. Produced by Goldstein, "Just Like Us" (featuring Lex & Thirty & Seven O.D.) is a very energetic track that is extremely grimey. While the production is not incredible, the performances are so ill and energetic, the song works extremely well. Other songs do not leave strong impressions but have good qualities due to Sticky's involvement. Songs like "Hot Now" and "Get Smashed Up" all have good Sticky Fingaz performances. Unfortunately, "Hot Now" has a somewhat generic theme while "Get Smashed Up" has very poor production. Still, Sticky fans can appreciate Sticky's performances.
Omar Epps (who was in the film "In Too Deep" with Sticky) raps on 2 tracks. First, "What Chu Here For" (produced by S-Man) features Omar Epps, Detroit Diamond and Rio. The synth-driven beat does have a cheap Casio-sounding feel to it but Sticky's verse is dope. The hook and the guest performances water this track down. "If you ain't got no doe / then what chu here for?" The high-pitched singing is just annoying. Omar Epps' verse is decent but not special. It is kind of hard to believe his tough persona. At least Sticky is a crazy grimey Onyx emcee who got involved in movies. Omar Epps does not even play grimey people in his movies. "I Love The Streets" (produced by Sticky Fingaz) is much better. The beat drives along as a thick moog-like keyboard melody glides over the track. The call-response hook works well too. After every line Sticky says, the crowd chants: "I love the streets!" Of course, Sticky's verse is far superior. Omar Epps' verse is kind of unbelievable again. He talks about shooting someone in the face, Tupac and John Gotti. Still, he stays on topic about his appreciation for his family and the dreams he had growing up. Overall, it is an entertaining track.
Some songs are simply saved by Sticky Fingaz's performance, lyrics or verses. Everything else does not work whether it is the beat, the hook, or the guests. "I Don't Know" (featuring Fredro Starr) is a perfect example. Produced by Porky, "I Don't Know" is like a cheap mixture of "Oh Boy" by Cam'Ron and "Hard Knock Life" by Jay-Z. It uses a sample children singing for the hook but also the phrase "I don't know" is inserted in certain lines of the songs. Fredro Starr does nothing special while Sticky saves the song with his charisma. "…(I don't know!) - How I got home last night / (I don't know)- How I blew 20 Gz in one night / All I remember is 2 hoes from Virginia out cold like December…" Even though Sticky does do a good job, it still comes off as a cheap attempt to have the next "Oh Boy" hit. "Girl" (produced by Sticky Fingaz) is just bad. Sticky sings the hook as he tries to pick up a woman. The 2nd part of the hook makes the song worse because Sticky's voice gets high-pitched. The drum track is extremely weak and the Casio-melody makes this simply a bad track. "Do Da Dam Thing" (featuring X1 and EST) was produced Scott Storch. This is pure club track. While "Can't Call It" worked, "Do Da Dam Thing" fails. The drumbeat is very weak and the keyboard melody is too. Once again, Sticky's one verse (someone else sings the hook) is only good thing about the song. "Bad Guy" (produced by Sticky Fingaz) is a very catchy song about the love of money. My Quan sings the hook "…If loving loot is wrong, I don't wanna be right.." This is where the difference between this LP and "Black Trash" is glaring. On "Money Talks", Sticky raps from the view of money, as if money had a mind. On "Bad Guy", Sticky just talks about how he (and everybody) loves and need money. It's nothing new. The only good thing about the track is Sticky's charisma. "No More" (produced by Sticky Fingaz) shows a more mature Sticky (well, somewhat more mature). On "No More", he sings and raps about how he's not going to party all night or cheat on women because he's in love with one woman. This is not the ill and crazy Sticky we all loved. This is more along the lines of "Sister I'm Sorry" from "Black Trash" without the sincerity.
Overall, "Decade" is somewhat of a disappointment but has some important qualities that should not be overlooked. Sticky's debut solo "Black Trash" was so intense and filled with well thought-out tracks that Sticky's follow-up could never be on the same level. "Decade" seems rushed and less focused. Still, Sticky Fingaz is an excellent emcee. His energy and charisma can carry a track (it does on some songs). There are a couple of problems with "Decade". First, the production is somewhat weak throughout most of the album (reminiscent of "Bacdafucup Part II" by Onyx). While some tracks do instantly hit hard ("Shot Up", "Caught In The Game", and "Suicide Letter"), other songs have to be appreciated through time. Most of the songs are short and the hooks are catchy. This makes the album flow quickly. The many unknown guests and generic production gives the LP a watered-down feel but Sticky does save it. The weird thing is… there are 2 times, I could not believe I was listening to a Sticky Fingaz LP. First, when I heard the children singing the hook in "I Don't Know", the grimey rating went down. Second, when I heard Sticky's lyrics about wanting to stay faithful and getting his love back on "No More", I could not believe this was the same man who wrote "Black Vagina Finda" or "Street Nigguhz". Still, "Decade" is overall a decent album because Sticky Fingaz has an incredible energy, an awesome voice, a wild range, interesting themes, sharp lyrics, an intense delivery and flow and a charismatic personality. He brings these elements to every track. "Decade" truly is a guilty pleasure. Like "Bacdafucup Part II" was for die-hard Onyx fans, "Decade" is for die-hard Sticky Fingaz fans. First time Sticky Fingaz fans should get "Black Trash" first. "Decade" has a second title "But Wait It Gets Worse". Well, it did get worse but "Decade" by Sticky Fingaz is not as bad as many people may think.