When Rick Rock, producer of such hip-hop hits as Fabolous “Can’t Deny It” and Jay-Z’s “Change The Game,” cosigns and produces an entire album for an upcoming West Coast act, it’s almost a surefire way to create a hit record, right? Well, from the looks and sounds of Federation The Album, Rick Rock might have cosigned on the wrong dotted line, as The Album is mired in many other questions, most notably: “Didn’t we just hear this track?”
Not all the blame falls on Federation, consisting of emcees Doonie Baby, Stres, and Goldie Gold, who actually suffer mightily from the bland synthesizer-heavy Rick Rock production (but make no mistake, the gangster glorifying lyrics of Federation are hardly anything to write home about either). The slang-creating “Hyphy” appropriately features the hip-hop linguist himself E-40, who cannot save Federation from following the recent trend of creating regional dialects and slang words (a la Nelly, Lil’ Jon, etc.).
Rick Rock decides to force the recycled “You Might See Me” (Jay-Z’s “Change The Game” with a little something trimmed off from the original) on Federation, before continuing down the synth-ilating path with similarly sounding club tracks, “Go Dumb,” “Hoes in Here,” and “You Don’t Want It.” The formulaic matter in which The Album dwells grows tiresome and weary with tracks blending together and the Rock production becoming more and more tedious to the point that the question, “Didn’t we just hear this track?,” becomes a required portion of every Federation song.
When Rock and Federation decide to drop the club act, the results can be quite different with the wholesome “Ghetto Love Song” offering Federation members the chance to vent about past relationships – the inclusion of the Next Level R&B hook also adds a hint of soul into The Album and charters the boys away from their gangster chatter. However, the very next contradicting track, “In Love With A Hoodrat,” whirls around 180-degrees and sees the crew taking stabs at hoodrats, which surprisingly rises head-and-shoulders above other club anthems but appears to be misplaced amongst the scattered tracks on this album.
The Twista inclusion on “What If I Had A Gun” is a welcomed change of pace on the lyrical end of The Album, while the rock-tinged “Mayhem” sees Federation members screaming, “If I was a white guy, I would be a rocker, But I am a black guy so I am a rapper!” Still, for Federation too little proves to come too late as the initial half of The Album sticks with strict synth production from Rick Rock and clubbed-out banter from one of the few West Coast clans operating on a national scale.
Sometimes too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. In the case of Rick Rock, he turns out much like other rapping counterparts that sustain a guest spot or two with success but fail to captivate or come correct for an entire album. After a listen or two to The Album, it’s not hard to see why “Didn’t we just hear this track?” could become the question of the year for the Federation – but more importantly, for the generic production musings of Rick Rock.