When it comes to pure talent Sheek Louch cannot hold up to the likes of his fellow Lox members. He doesn’t posses the charisma of Jadakiss, the rawness of Styles P, or the lyrical talent of both. However, with all that being said, Sheek has still managed to pull off what many thought was the impossible, produce the best Lox album to date. While many, including myself, questioned if Sheek should even drop a solo LP, to everyone’s amazement Sheek has put forth not only an album that exceeds all expectations, but an album that is better than anything Kiss or Styles has ever produced.
So what makes Sheek’s debut album “Walk Witt Me” different from the previous Lox albums released. For starters the album is more focused and is geared at its intended audience, the streets. While Kiss was always the crew’s most talented member, “Kiss The Game Goodbye” was a soft and weak commercial attempt at striking it rich in the mainstream world. You will find none of that on “Walk Witt Me” as Sheek gives us exactly what we what, a gritty NYC influenced album that the streets will certainty embrace. Styles P attempted to produce the same with “A Gangster And A Gentlemen” but the album, while a good effort, lacked the focus and direction "Walk Witt Me” possesses. With Sheek’s debut we get a 14-track album with no skits, making the album short, but to the point, unlike Styles solo venture.
And while comparisons to his fellow running mates albums can go on for days, what makes “Walk Witt Me” a success is the production aspect, which is by far the best for any Lox album, along with the variety in topics Sheek's presents. And while Sheek was never known for any mind blowing lyrical verses, Sheek does step up his game for “Walk Witt Me” making the lyrical content bearable and entertaining for the most part. There are really no standout verses or displays of lyrical excellence, but in comparisons to his earlier work, Lox fans will be more than please with the finished product.
For the most part, “Walk Witt Me” is filled with your typical hard-core Lox tales depicting the rough streets of Yonkers, and while nothing ground breaking, they are done very well. The Alchemist produced “Turn It Up” is a rugged yet catchy attempt at satisfying the streets as well as the mainstream crowd. “Turn It Up” is the type of track that could bang in the club, in your car or on the street corner. Sheek’s flow and intense mic presence, both of which are much improved, give the track an extra boost, making it one of the more memorable tracks on the album. “In Out” featuring Styles P & “Ten Hut” featuring Jadakiss are both outstanding collaborations that showcase each member’s precise chemistry with each other. Kiss especially blazes the mic with his respective verses on “Ten Hut”. “Whoever asked me about what’s his name, fuck ‘em he’s wack, should wear a condom in the booth cause I be fuckin’ the track”. But not to be forgotten is the production side of both tracks, which is the main ingredient for success on this album.
Of course what would be a Lox album without a couple of group collaborations. The whole D-Block family comes through in full force on “Don’t Mean Nuthin” & the smash hit “Mighty D-Block” (2 Gunz Up). Up and coming youngster Jae Hood is slowly creating some buzz on the streets of NYC, and rightfully so after such standout verses as his on “Don’t Mean Nuthin”, which outshines all others. “It’s the baby faced gangsta product of my environment, hoodied up, stickin your grandfather for his retirement…..make you drink a bottle of chloride, hit you with four shots, they can’t determine the cause of your death in your autops”. And for those residing in the tri-state area, the huge street hit “Mighty D-Block” is a track you are already familiar with. However, this new version included on “Walk Witt Me” is actually quite different. While still a great track, the production has been tweaked, leaving the track sounding much softer. Also taken out where some of the nice vocal samples placed in by Green Lantern, such as the perfectly placed 50 Cent quote “all the other hard niggaz come from Yonkers”. It’s a shame that the original version of “2 Gunz Up” couldn’t make the album, as this new version lacks the raw feeling and emotion the originally did. Nevertheless, the track is still one of the best Lox tracks ever, as the catchy and addicting hook by Jadakiss has set the entire industry on fire. “Everywhere we go, people wanna know, who we are, so we tell them. This is D-Block, might mighty D-Block”. Who would have thought an old pee wee football saying from the then young Sheek & Kiss would have turned into the crew’s biggest hit yet. Speaking of Kiss, one cannot overlook his standout verse on the track, which is by far the best on the entire album. “The revolver or matty’s cool, knife game like daddy cool, since Bally shoes. This is real live street shit, truest and the deepest, know niggaz that go to jail just to get their teeth fixed. Think I give a fuck what you herbs say, when I got the nigga that you trying to be watching my wordplay”.
While the large amount of street music the Lox produce is always a welcomed experience for those infatuated with that certain type of vibe. What really makes “Walk Witt Me” the best Lox album yet is the amazing efforts from Sheek on tracks such as the self titled “Walk Witt Me”, “I Ain’t Forget”, “3-5-4” & “How I Love You” featuring Styles P. Not many thought Sheek could produce anything remotely conceptual or insightful, but that is just what the he has done, which is never more evident than on the album’s true gem “Walk Witt Me”. Instead of his usual thug antics, Sheek actually delves into his soul offering a look inside the man few actually know. Sheek pours his heart out on the beautiful track asking everybody if a change can really come in this world. “I don’t know, maybe we can make a change, maybe not?….We ain’t Black or White, matter of fact we are, but we don’t have to fight or kill. Maybe Malcom would been alive still; maybe Martin would have been able to chill. Maybe a black face on a dollar bill. I keep hope alive, that I stay alive. I think it’s coming, I’m tryin not to drink and drive. A place where the death penalty is gone, no abortions, life only lives on”. The song's production is also a big cause for its success, as the beautiful piano loop and soulful melody will have you zoning out to the track’s vibe.
Just as Sheek showed a lot of versatility on “Walk Witt Me”, he does the same on “I Ain’t Forget”, which is an outstanding look into the history of the Lox since day one. Sheek runs through his times with Bad Boy to how each of their albums was embraced by the public. “Jadakiss dropped the solo, they loving his voice. I’m loving his shit, but the hood thought it was moist. Styles P dropped “A Gangsta And A Gentlemen”, hard, no need to speak but the promotion was weak. Sheek never had solo plans, until I dropped a freestyle in the studio with some of my mans”. The final two cuts which showcase Sheek’s growth and maturity as an artist are the storytelling efforts of “3-5-4” and the metaphorical Hip-Hop love tale of “How I Love You” featuring Styles. With the best production effort on the album, “3-5-4” is a surprisingly well written storytelling track from Sheek, who runs through a decently vivid depiction of a bloody street war between crews. “How I Love You” is yet another take off on Common’s timeless classic “I Used To Love H.E.R.” as both Sheek and Styles describe their love for the culture of Hip Hop. The nicely placed vocal sample adds an emphasis to the track’s meaning, as well as some nice soulful flavor.
Surprisingly, for Sheek’s debut there are only a couple of lackluster songs that could be thrown in the category of filler material. “How Many Guns” & “D-Block” both fail mainly due to cookie cutter production that doesn’t rival some of the better efforts on the album. The reggae influenced “Crazzy” is another misstep for Sheek, as the production is catchy but nothing that will keep your attention for more than a couple of listens.
In the end it’s almost unfathomable that Sheek Louch has actually dropped the best Lox album yet. For someone who was considered the group’s weakest link, he sure has proven his worth within the crew. Maybe Jadakiss & Styles should listen to their third wheel more often, as Sheek seems to posses the crew’s best ear for production along with the best focus and direction of the three. And while many will criticize “Walk Witt Me” for it’s lack of lyrical talent, Sheek proves that you don’t always need out of this world displays of lyricism to produce a good album. And as Sheek says himself, “I ain’t the millennium Ra, Kool G or KR, I’m just doing me”, and that’s all you can ask out of the man.