After some luke-warm reviews (and sales) of sophomore LPs, the Boot Camp Clik disappeared. Sure, OGC came out with the incredible "M-Pire Strikez Back," but Buckshot's "The BDI Thug" was never received very well. Rock's departure from the group helped spread the rumors that the BCC was dead and in the ground. Even though I loved every single release by Duckdown Records, a few singles were the only thing that bubbled up. Much to my relief, the crew is back! The Boot Camp Clik has returned minus Rock of Heltah Skeltah.
The debut family album "For Da People" was a solid album, but many disliked the R&B hooks and live instrumentation. Another problem was the abundant amount of unknown 2nd generation crew members that we never heard before. BCC's new album "The Chosen Few" corrects all the problems. It's as if they read every single bad review on "For Da People" and took note. Here, the production is top-notch and very hardcore with pounding beats, cool scratching, and unique vocal loops. Also, the seven core members (Buckshot, Tek & Steele, Starang Wondah, Top Dog, Louieville, and Ruck) all sharing the spotlight for most of the album leaving the guests and 2nd generation members little room. The product is one of quality.
There are many very dope tracks on this comeback LP. "And So" (produced by Curt Cazal) is the LP's scorching opener. This vocal sample glides along with the very cool sample that even has that vintage scratch from the sound of vinyl. Tek kicks the track off but Ruck practically steals the show. Without a catchy hook, this track is highly addictive and will stay in any fan's head. "Just Us" (produced by TY Deals) has Buckshot on the hook: "…Everyday, all day / With my n*ggas / Just hanging out / Just cooling out…" "Think Back" featuring Jahdan (produced by Da Beatminerz) is a creative spin on the typical reminiscence track. Tek (of The Cocoa Brovaz) does an excellent job of painting a vivid picture of what life was like growing up in NYC back in the day. Jahdan also laces the track with some very cool reggae vocals towards the end. The hook is also very addictive as it uses singing mixed in with rap.
"The Chosen Few (Live For This)" (produced by Coptic) is the last actual song on the album. It closes the album well using the whole crew and a very familiar sample of "Tomorrow I May Not Feel The Same" by Gene Chandler. Hip-hop heads may remember this sample from Talib Kweli & Hi-Tek's "Ghetto Afterlife" featuring Kool G. Rap. Still, The BCC flip this loop with wisdom and the much need energy that the fans have yearned for all these years. Starang kicks the song off with a very memorable verse. Ruck kills it too with his usual microphone magic. Tek rocks a memorable verse that borrows heavily from Nas's "One Mic". It's a great way to end the LP. It is even followed by a serenity prayer by Tek.
Some other standout songs maintain the level of quality on the album. While they are not as excellent as "And So," they are very strong and grow on the listener with repeated listens. "Welcome To Bucktown USA" features Supreme of The Representativz & Scratch of The Roots. Produced by Coptic, this 2nd remake is just as good as the others since it uses the other members of the BCC and not just Tek & Steele of the Cocoa Brovaz. "Let's Roll" (produced by Baby Paul) feels like a club track at first for the organ-led beat is extremely addictive along with Tek's brash hook.
"Let's Get Down 2 Bizness" (produced by Alchemist) is good but somewhat disappointing. I was expecting much more from an Alchemist and BCC collaboration. They even use a hook and melody very similar to Eminem's "Business." Still, it's a decent track where the emcee's verses shine. "That's Tough (Little Bit)" (produced by Bink) is a fun, hardcore party/anthem joint about getting high and various stimuli. Tek and Starang do an excellent job on the hook: "A little bit of weed and a little bit of…" "Whoop His Ass" (produced by The Producers Coalition Of America) is both humorous and riot causing. Using a call-response hook, this track could cause a serious disturbance in any venue or get the listener ready to battle anything or anybody. "Daddy Wanna" (produced by Da Beatminerz) is a both serious and entertaining look at fatherhood.
Filler and sub-par disappointing cuts plague almost every LP. "Ice Skate" (produced by Hi-Tek) is the most disappointing on the album. The main reason is the lame hook. Both the vocals and the lyrics to the hook are pretty much pointless and trite: "…It's on you if you wanna hate / You can ice skate… This is how we do it 'round here…" Even though Hi-Tek's beat hits hard and the verses by the BCC's emcees are all on point, the hook ruins the track.
Overall, "The Chosen Few" is truly a dope LP that works well. With the exception of one track, Boot Camp Clik has returned and they have been redeemed. Starang Wondah, Ruck, Buckshot and Tek steal the album. While some songs don't even have catchy hooks, the ones that do, are complicated and use more than one emcee to keep your attention fixed upon them. The BCC truly improved upon everything and made sure they would not fail. The only problem may lie in the listener. It's not the mid-90's anymore and the BCC is not as new as they were when "Nocturnal" or "Enta Da Stage" came out. Also, some may miss Rock, the deep-voice monster that made up one-half of Heltah Skeltah. There's not one mention of him in the lyrics or in the liner notes.
Underground hip-hop lovers should thank God for the Boot Camp Clik. They are bringing true hip-hop that is cleverly executed and yet down-to-Earth at the same time. They truly are an inspiration to us all. As a group and family, they fell and were forgotten by many. Like a phoenix, they rose up from their own ashes and now fly high above the true lovers of hardcore underground hip-hop! "The Chosen Few" is a must for any lover or fan of Duckdown Records or The Boot Camp Clik.