Funkmaster Flex & Big Kap - The Tunnel   
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written by Philip Oliver    
Seeing the name Funkmaster Flex associated with this latest Def Jam release could have you thinking that this was his 4th official mixtape but lets get it right from the start, this is no mixtape, this is a compilation. In fact where Flex would normally be talking over tracks getting irritating he only pops up here and there through this album along with Kap to introduce the tracks. The album has it all, tracks for the Thugs, the Wu fans, the Ruff Ryders, the party crowd or just the straight up hip hop fan. This album is a true dedication to the sounds the infamous NY underground hip hop club ‘The Tunnel’ it is 19 new tracks of goodness.

We kick off with a freestyle I’ve heard a few times before, recorded a long time ago in the Tunnel it displays the stage presence of Tupac and Biggie when they were cool, even though you can’t see it, you can feel the energy in their voices and the reaction of the crowd. This is an indication of the atmosphere at the club, this album is attempting to take you through the different styles of hip-hop you can hear there and the overall vibe it creates. Snoop Recreates Biggies ‘Real Niggaz’ on ‘Real G’s’, instead of Death Row beats it’s Biggies Bad boy beats that are used for Snoop to flip verses over, a good attempt but in parts he seems to be struggling. The new tracks contributed by the emcees of the 90’s are far from throwaway material that didn’t make their own albums. For example take the track Dre and Eminem come with, ‘If I get locked up’ sees Slim Shady getting even better over a royal horn laced beat, he’s getting sicker or he’s just on the brink of ingenuity because you can’t help hitting that rewind button to check ‘did he really say that?’ Capone N’ Noreaga come with ‘Thunn’, which has that Melvin Flynt sound but sounds better than anything on that album. The same thing can be said for the Raekwon track ‘Dem want war’ which sounds better than the whole of his recent mistake that was ‘Immobilarity’, its far too short though but fear not Wu fans there’s more in the form of Meth on ‘True’. This track had me confused for a moment but the further you get into the track you realise its dope as fuck, not your average Wu sound but we haven’t heard that in years anyway.

Nas and Nashawn return on ‘Millennium Thug’ which is pretty nice, notice a pattern so far? Although they could have got their own beat to verse over instead of the original ‘B Boy Document’ from the High and mighty. Nas would have been better placed on ‘Live at the tunnel’, 'cause when you remake a classic you do have to do it right and putting Ja Rule on a remake of ‘Live at the BBQ’ just had me hating the track, love the beat though. Current Def Jam moneymakers Jay-Z & DMX (With the Ruff Ryders) bring tracks to the set, which are just average in comparison to the high quality of the other tracks available here. LL Cool J performs a great track, yeah that’s right LL Cool J, ‘Ill Bomb’ is probably the most unexpected twist in this compilation. LL has developed a smooth flow to accompany one of the best beats on here, now if this is what he could bring for most of an album he’d gain a hell of a lot more respect from us here in hip hop land. Other Def Jam artists Erick Sermon and Redman hit us hard with the typically funky and very excellent ‘Okay’, this album has so much quality.

‘The Tunnel’ is very good, I have few complaints with it, there’s not too much annoying shouting over tracks from the Deejays and most of the tracks are high quality but a few others from Cash Money and the Crooklyn Clan seem like they are here just for the sake of it to represent the genre they display in hip hop. They are there understandably included though and it is a fair representation of what the Tunnel is about although I would have liked a few interspersed live snippets of performances or out takes from the club. The album caters for anyone who appreciates hip-hop so I definitely recommend you get this just in time for Christmas, it won’t disappoint.

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