Some hip-hop artists are like the ace of clubs - decidedly acceptant of their place within the deck after getting lost in the shuffle so many times. Despite packing the potential to wallop and trump almost all of the rest of the cards in the deck, the ace of spades hangs back, reluctantly striking and doing so only superficially usually.
K-Class Entertainment artist K. Sparks fits the description of the usually suspect 'ace of clubs' with his "Mixtape, Volume 2" release, a lazy formulaic approach to mixtapes that features the Queens emcee headed in all different directions over a variety of industry production. Best described as Prodigy (Mobb Deep) with punchlines and more punch overall, K. Sparks deals hard gangster-isms and thugged-out verses dealt with a flurry of metaphors strong enough to escape his sometimes-passe delivery. While "Mixtape 2" is impressive enough to attract the New York crowd befitted with the mixtape procedure of other comparable artists, K. Sparks' ace of clubs approach leaves much to be desired from an artist that could seemingly do so much more damage.
Unlike fellow K-Class rapper Angelous, K. Sparks infatuation with gun talk, girls, and money shines through heavily on "Mixtape, Vol. 2," a trait that hurts the album with its mundane and limited range of topics. "Who Wants Beef?," "Get Past the Err!," and "Chat With Satan" (over DMX's "Get At Me, Dog") all fail from a lack of any real substance and could easily be dismissed as quick freestyle sessions that do little to further the value of K. Sparks.
Elsewhere, "Just Don't Know" and "Just Talking" both feature the rapper Five Spot, who...well, "just" brings both songs down before Sparks can even grab the microphone. And "Middle Finga To Da Sky" and "K. Sparks Killing It" are easily forgettable raps from the Sparkster that clock in at around 2 minutes a pop.
Despite harvesting under 40 minutes of actual music, "Mixtape, Vol. 2" does portray a side of K. Sparks that packs a winning contribution like the ace of clubs on a blackjack table. On "Gonna Feel It," Sparks raps about how he will "hang 'em out the window like MJ's son" amongst other slick lines like, "Blackmail you like the Paris Hilton sex tapes." His pairing with Angelous results in the rebellious double-negative "Not Going Nowhere," where Sparks spits, "You spittin' them murder, murder in all of your flows, Your style is getting tired like reality shows." And the hilarity ensues on "You Just Want My Change," a 50 Cent-esque ode to clingy women over Alicia Keys' "You Don't Know My Name."
The best hand K. Sparks plays on "Mixtape, Vol. 2.," however, antes up with "It's Me," where K. Sparks sheds the superficial attitude he commits to on other sections of the album and bears a strong personality and more personal track. It also lends curiosity to Sparks as he would have the potential to fit in quite nicely over the backdrop of an Alchemist or a Havoc production. Sparks is Mobb Deep without always having to play only the "Mobb" part.
"Mixtape, Vol. 2" serves as an ace-high winning hand against other mixtapes that have invaded hip-hop recently, but it still misses key elements that could make it much stronger. A more powerful, hungry, and emotional Sparks could lead to him flushing out the competition. Unfortunately, for now at least, he seems content to let other cards be dealt, while he sits lost amongst the shuffle.