Following in the footsteps of his mentor DJ Clue, New York City's very own DJ Envy continues the tradition of lackluster major label mixtapes with "Block Party Vol. 1". While Clue help set the standard for commercially released mixtapes with his "Professional" series years ago, Envy is unable to build upon this formula with his own Desert Storm release. While DJ Clue's mixtape series were a sign of the times, representing that late 90's sound. It seems as if Envy is still caught in this time period as "Block Party Vol. 1's" dated sound is 5 year too late.
Continuing the trend of horrendous production that the Desert Storm crew only seems to put out, "Block Party" is filled with a nice amount of top-notch emcees but its production is dated and stale. Desert Storm's production seems to be lost in 98-99, while the rest of the industry has moved onto a better sound. The album runs through your typical high profile emcees spitting over lackluster, simplistic synthesizer production, as seen on Styles "What, When, Where, Why", "Redman's "So Vicious", The Lox & J-Hood's "D-Block" & Flipmode's "Throw Your Shit Up".
Of course what would be a mixtape these days without representation from every side of the Hip-Hop universe. Petey Pablo, Juvenile & Coke put forth your typical dirty south sound with "Yes Sir", while Baby, Mikey & Stone's horrendous "Big Things" & St. Lunatic Murphy Lee's "Jungle Gym" are even worse, thanks to gimmicky production and awful lyricism. Pop group 3LW even show up for "Can I Talk To You" in an obvious attempt to sell units. Why else would Envy put them on a Hip-Hop mixtape?
As with any Desert Storm mixtape, Fabolous, Paul Cain & Joe Buddens are bound to make an appearance. Fabolous's "Why Wouldn't I" is your typical commercial effort from the slumping lyricist, which features nothing less than horrific production. The two brothers continue their tradition of pimped out tales of ice, woman and throwbacks that will have NYC radio's leaching on. Keeping it on the same vibe is "Grand Theft Auto" by Faoblous, Paul Cain & Joe Buddens & "Focus" by Joe Buddens, both of which are your typical NYC mixtape material, filled with countless metaphors and pointless rhymes.
The only remotely decent tracks featured on the album come from the two biggest names on the street, Jay-z & G-Unit. Jay-z's "Hova" is vintage 2003 Jigga material with soulful production, which Jigga calls "super hero music", that is reminiscent of that classic "Blueprint" style. While Jay's verse is recycled, as many will remember it from his mixtape freestyle after his return from overseas, it still sounds as fresh as ever. "I made in the rap game speaking on the reels. I'm bling cause I passed the statute of limitation, and I'm makin too much money to be goin to jail. Who else you know on probation leave the country for a month to go on vacation".
But what would be a mixtape these days without an appearance by 50 Cent & G-Unit. "What Goes Around" is another shot in the face by G-Unit towards Murda Inc, this time handed out by Lloyd Banks. As the next "hot commodity" in the streets, Banks rips apart Murda Inc. taking shots at Ja, Ashanti & Charlie Baltimore. "Either I'm blind, or Ashanti's sideburns is thicker than mine…And as far as Charlie, a studio hour is a waste. She look like she took a bag of flour in the face. You want street credibility instead of I'ma sting you, C'mon Ja you put a fuckin crackhead on your single". Banks raw hunger, slowed down flow and humorous lyricism makes many believe he is the next mixtape emcee to blow. While 50 doesn't spit a verse, he add his usual flavor to the tracks sing along hook "What goes up must come down, what goes around comes back around I suggest you run when you see the pound Or get laid the fuck out on the ground".
While DJ Envy gained some modest hype and notoriety in the streets a couple years ago, since then he has been nothing but your run of the mill mixtape DJ. He provides nothing new to the mixtape game and has been overrun by newer DJ's such as Whoo Kid & J-Love. "Block Party Vol. 1" is nothing more than a horrible attempt to recreate what DJ Clue accomplished in the late 90's and in this attempt sounds stale and redundant. Envy's first major label release is nothing more than a disaster, as you will be quick to find a better street corner mixtape than the one Envy puts out with "Block Party Vol. 1". Let's just hope Envy either learns his lesson or fails to put out another volume, as "Block Party 1" is by far the worst major label mixtape ever to be released.