Guerilla Black is no Biggie, but he does a great impression. Even though Guerilla Black wants to be accepted for who he is, there is no denying that he looks, talks, raps and acts like Biggie. Everything from his flow, wordplay and cadence is eerily reminiscent of the late great Christopher Wallace. And no matter how successful he is, it is going to be hard for Guerilla Black to separate himself from all the comparisons.
With his "Hearts Of Fire" mixtape, Guerilla Black goes the usual route by jacking the usual assortment of "hot" beats in the industry. However, just as every other mixtape does, this formula becomes highly repetitive and boring. It is easy to sound nice over other artist's beats, especially since the song's concept is already laid out in front of you. But for this mixtape Guerilla Black is going to be judged by his lyrics, as he definitely has something to prove.
Lyrically Guerilla Black is no slouch. However, it is evident that he is mimicking Biggie's entire style, especially with his wordplay. While Black is not as lyrically gifted as Big, throughout the mixtape you can certainly imagine Biggie spitting similar lines or phrases. It's almost as if Guerilla Black stole Biggie's rhyme book to a certain extent. Proof of this is "Choice Is Yours", as Guerilla jacks a variety of Biggie's beats such as "Kick In The Door", "I Got A Story To Tell" and "Juicy". Listening to Black spit on the track is down right scary, as its almost as if Biggie is alive again. Black even emphasizes and stresses words the same as Big did. Guerilla also impresses on such freestyle attempts as "Mother Fxxx Gone Die", "G-Up", "Yeah, Yeah, Yeah" and "Its Too Late". However, the rest of the album isn't nearly as impressive, as Black's beat selection could have been better.
There are only a couple of official songs on the album; however, none of them tend to be impressive either. "Guerilla Nasty" is a lame attempt at drawing in the ladies due to Jazze Phae's predictable and lusterless production. Black's debut single "Compton" has made a nice impact across the country, but is not impressive enough to convince critics he is the real deal. Adding Beeni Man to spice up the track with a reggae feel does not help either, as it would have been smarter for Black to come out with a single that proves he can hold down a track without any outside help. Guerilla Black also compromises his lyrical skills on efforts such as "Compton" and "Guerilla Nasty", especially in comparison to the rest of the mixtape.
Whether or not Guerilla Black is the fraud that many have been quick to label him as is still up in the air. However, Black proves on "Hearts Of Fire Vol. 1" that he has does have lyrical talent. Will such talent translate into good songs and a great album? We will just have to wait until September 28, when his debut album drops to find out.