Queens Bridge, this is the place where stars are born. The borough of Queens has definitely had its share of Hip-Hop legends, from figures such as Marley Marl, Run Dmc, LL Cool J to Nas. However, one of the often overlooked legends from Q.B. is none other than the Juice Crew representative Craig G. While Craig often gets lost in the shuffle of names, his status in this Hip-Hop game runs deep. Running with Marley and the Juice Crew in Hip-Hop's golden era, Craig's catalogue of classic Hip-Hop material includes "The Symphony", "Dropping Science" and "Duck Alert" among others. Craig was always that cocky emcee with a sharp tongue and a knack for ripping emcees apart with his ferocious battle rhymes. This still holds true today, as Craig hasn't lost a step on the mic. It has been battling that has kept Craig afloat through the years, surviving numerous hardships and setbacks. While Craig has been missing in action in regards to an album for years, his rep in the battle scene kept Craig from truly fading away. Now after years of obscurity, Craig G is back to prove to the Hip-Hop world that he hasn't gone anywhere.
With his D&D Records debut "This Is Now", Craig G looks to solidify himself as not only one of the industry's finest battle emcee's, but as an all around great emcee in his own right. While battling is what Craig is always going to be known for, on "This Is Now" Craig proves to his critics that he is indeed capable of producing much more. "Wrong Chick" produced by Alchemist, is nice story telling tale of a girl gone wrong. While Alchemist's simplistic production isn't up to his usual par, Craig puts forth a good lyrical effort on the mic, making "Wrong Chick" a very satisfying listen.
Craig also provides a nice amount of radio friendly, club anthems throughout "This Is Now". While some sound a little too forced, such as the Nottz produced "Now That's What's Up" featuring Mr. Cheeks and "Say What Ya Want" produced by Arabian Knight. For the most part these attempts come off very well. The finest of these is the long awaited reunion of Craig and Marley Marl on "Let's Get Up". On the production side, "Marley puts a new spin on a vintage Hip Hop beat", but laces the track beautifully none the less. Straight from the gate Craig makes everybody remember why the duo forms a classic alliance, even to this day. "When I said Craig G and Marley formed the ultimate alliance in Dropping Science believe it when ya heard, I wasn't lying". While "Let's Get Up" was the album's first single, the follow up remains in the same light, as the Rockwilder produced "Stomped" is a vicious club banger that should definitely be getting more radio play than it has. Craig comes thought with an abundant amount of energy and charisma on the track, making it one of the better commercial track's in Craig's catalogue.
While the variety in the album is going to prove to the industry that Craig hasn't lost a step in his all around game, what is really going to attract listeners to "This Is Now" is the album's amazing production line up. With a line up of producers that includes DJ Premier, Large Professor, Alchemist, Marley Marl, Da Beatminerz, Domingo, Nottz & Rockwilder, Craig surrounds himself with great production throughout the album's entirety. Two of the finest tracks on the album come from none other than the two legends of our time, DJ Premier & Large Professor. "Ready Set Begin" is your usual Primo banger that consists of that gritty NYC street sound, along with your typical scratches included the hook. While some have questioned Premier's production the past two years, "Ready Set Being" is proof that Primo still has that gritty edge he always has. A producer that also carries this edge is Large Professor, who laces Craig with nothing but perfection on "Love Is Love". The two long time friends blaze the mic while at the same time playing homage to their hometown. But the album's true gem comes from Craig's most personal and insightful song ever written, "Do It Over Again". While Craig has been rocking mics for over 16 years, his fame and success hasn't come without much hardships and turmoil. Craig expresses his history throughout this Hip-Hop game in a stunning manor that will leave every listen breathless.
The Domingo produced track is laced perfectly with a spectacular, soulful loop in the hook, sampled from Walter Jackson's "If I Had A Chance". Very similar to Masta Ace's "No Regrets", Craig strongly states "If I had a chance to do it over again, I'd do it the same way, life's just too serious to try and play games, and that's real".
While numerous artists come and go, it's the one's that stay persistent and fight through the turmoil that get remember. While in today's society many may not remember the greatness of Craig G in the late 80's, "This Is Now" is proof that Craig can still rock a mic better than ever. With a spectacular production lineup and a nice variety in song making, "This Is Now" comes off as a very enjoyable album. While some moments are duller than others, as seen on the bad concepts gone wrong on "Damn This Day" and "Dribble Or Shoot" featuring Afu-Ra. The album's finest moments easily over shadow the rest and make "This Is Now" worth the price of admission alone. "In all his years in the business, Craig's MO hasn't changed, with witty punch lines and well crafted lyrics". But with "This Is Now" Craig proves he is capable of much more. And while Craig G will always be up to battle, sometimes proving you can make a good album is a lot more important.