I ain’t coming into this review with any biases but Erick Sermon is one of my all time favorite producers, consistent and dope. Over the last few years however he’s fallen slightly with mediocre over used samples and not changing up his flow or production styles, you could say it was getting stagnant. He still manages to pull off absolute gems per album, e.g. ‘KIM’ from ‘Back in Business’, ‘The Symphony’ on ‘Out of business’ or even ‘Countdown’ from the last Def squad Album. But its 2000, Keith Murray's in Jail and Redmans getting blunted somewhere with Mef so its time for Erick Sermons alias Erick O'Nasis to carry the latest Def Squad album (along with outside guests and producers) to victory. Can he do it or because of legalities is this just another attempt at Erick sermon - ‘the solo artist’.
The albums opener produced by DJ Scratch is far too short, the production is off the hook, as its transforms back and forth from triumphant horns to funky raindrops. E double isn’t saying nothing new but he spits with so much energy its refreshing, something that is only replicated on the lead single ‘Get da money’ with that murrrderrarrrhhh Ja Rule. This track is sick as fuck and I can even tolerate Ja’s presence, sadly through the rest of the album E resorts back to his normal funk mode flow.
I wouldn’t say the guests really carry this album although they do little harm to replace those M.I.A., he nods to the old skool with Slick Rick on the bass heavy ‘Why not?’ as they both go toe to toe as if it was 1989 all over again but with a millennium twist. For some odd reason the 5 year old ‘fat gold chain’ with Oakland veteran Too $hort appears on this album but who cares because its just as nice today and with its funky guitar strumming shows Sermon does not have to rely on Zapp and Roger samples for the entirety of his LP’s. Probably 2 of the weakest cuts that use the guest formula for attraction are ‘So sweet’ and ‘Focus’. The latter allows Xzibit and DJ Quik on the mic as well as letting Quik behind the boards and on an Erick Sermon album it sticks out like a sore thumb, I’m all for variety but not for sounding out of place (Mr Avirex to the Z kills it though). Then Erick attempts to resurrect an old Eazy E vocal hook and verse over a mismatched beat, while E-double adapts to it he should have thought what he was adding to the track, I mean the vocals fit but when you listen to Eazy’s rhyming it goes off key (A point to all producers, leave dead rappers alone, they left their legacy before they passed on).
So what Def Squad album would be complete without the Keef & Reggie? Although they do little to recapture the magic of past collabos, Erick manages to rope in Redman for a verse here and there and pull some Keith Vocals from the vaults recorded before he hit the penile. The funk docta spock comes in for the sleep inducing ‘Live it up’ with Khari Santiago (Who ain’t too bad, also check ‘feel me baby’ with him which is a lot better) and the blatantly ‘Hostile’ jacking ‘Hostility’ which reunites Keith, Erick and Reggie (Sounds like a family reunion of cousins don’t it?). This track barely exceeds average as they try to go over old ground even using the same vocal sample, just wait til keith comes out with all that built up energy to really tip that Richter scale. Think Parrish Smith has been forgotten? Think again as he sneaks in with a snappy flow as the album ends on the blazer that is ‘Vagundy’ and kills it with his final verse blowing Big Kim, Sy scott, Nolan Epps, Bo & Ruck and Billy Billions out of the water.
So this is no real follow up to 1998’s ‘El nino’ but rather another Erick Sermon and guests album which pretty much exceeds ‘Double or nothing’ and even gives ‘No pressure’ a run for its money. It’s a bit short but maybe too much of this thick muddy funk would be a turn off so again its all about quality over quantity, pick it up as I guarantee whether your thing is east, west or southern hip hop, you’ll like it.