What do you do when you haven't released an album in two years but you need to keep your name in the streets, release a mixtape of course. This predictable formula of mixtape releases once again finds a home, this time in the hands of Brick City native Redman for "Ill At Will The Mixtape Vol. 1". Like every other mixtape, "Ill At Will" is consumed with mostly filler material, bland freestyle attempts and any other type of track that wouldn't find it's way on a real album.
While the mixtape scene has been oversaturated for months, Redman still manages to duplicate the usual jacking for beat sessions that every other artists seems to pull off these days. The re-twisting of LL's "Mr. Good Bar" on "Search 4 Barney Freestyle" gets points for at least being creative in his beat jacking, but the same cannot be said for "Brick Intentions Freestyle" (Knocturnal's Bad Intentions), "Don't Want It Wit Us" (Busta's I Know What You Want) and "Bricks Standup" (Jay's What More Can I Say). Other new releases such as "Gillatime" featuring Soc and "Yeah! Yeah!" featuring Snoop Dogg both fail due to typical cut and past keyboard production.
The only two highlights of the unnecessary mixtape are "Da Countdown" (Saga Continues) and the Eminem produced "I C Dead People". "Da Countdown" is most notably known for Red's quick jab at his own record company Def Jam, as he so perfectly states "Def Jam lost they soul, they forgot how to build an artist, so I gotta show 'em". However, "I C Dead People" is the true gem of the album, as the dark and haunting Eminem beat sounds all too well with Redman, especially since E-Dubb is no longer to provide such an atmosphere anymore. Creatively the song is one of Redman's best in ages; as Big Pun's, Biggie's, Pac's and Big L's spirits come to life on the track by having each late great emcee's lyrics blend in with Redman's very own.
While it's always great to hear from the dirty jerz's king emcee, "Ill At Will" is an average mixapte at best. It's clear that the majority of the albums cut were nothing but throw away attempts that could have only found a home on a mixtape like this. Unless you’re a diehard Redman fan there is really no need to pick up "Ill At Will Vol. 1". Somebody wake me up when Red releases another full length album because that's about the only thing fans want to hear from him nowadays.