A lot has happened since Shyne released his solo debut nearly four years ago. He caught a jail sentence that can last him as far as 2010. He fell out with P. Diddy. He formed a few enemies. To top it off, he signed with major label powerhouse Def Jam Records. After all this he releases his long awaited sophomore LP "Godfather Buried Alive". Does Shyne suffer from the sophomore slump? No. Technically, he was able to deliver us an overall better album than his self titled debut. However problems still remain, as half of the release consists of lackluster tracks, while the other half is comprised of some amazingly hardcore songs that will suffice the appetite of the most devout fan of hardcore hip hop.
'Edge' is a haunting track that displays Shyne spitting street tales with the flow and cadence that only he is capable of. On "Diamonds and Mack 10's", Just Blaze shows us that he still has a lot of heat in his arsenal to offer us. The combination of bass heavy rifts along with horn blows makes for the perfect canvas for Shyne to paint a picture of life behind bars and the thoughts that went through his mind throughout his legal woes as he spits "What's it all about? Sittin in this jail house Eleven counts, but only one count that's the color of my skin Black robes, white justice Clarence Thomas is a motherfuc*in puppet" and Repeatin' the lords prayers sittin' in this court room I'm cursed We havin dreams of leavin here up in a hearse I wonder when I close my eyes will it hurt? I'm suicidal Can't take this pressure or this pain Too much for these young eyes Real G's don't die, that's a lie Cuz I'm dyin inside, cryin' inside Look at me sweatin', palms shakin, hidin' inside".
On this album we also see a resurrection of Fox Boogie Brown. She returns providing the hook on the mixtape banger "More Or Less", as well as "The Gang". 'More Or Less' is an eerie track which is among one of the albums finest. "The Gang" boasts an impeccable chemistry between Shyne and Foxy over a violin influenced infectious beat. It left me in hot anticipation for the rumored Brooklyn Super Group that is supposedly on the horizon. "The Gang" shows a hunger and intensity in Foxy Brown that has not been seen in a long while. Swizz Beats also stops through to deliver a vintage Swizz banger. Lyrically, Shyne isn't saying anything new on this track, however the production is what puts this song over the edge. "Godfather" is another track in the same violin influence vein as "The Gang", however the quirky looped beat is what gives this song its own identity.
At roughly the middle of the album is the point where the high quality ends and the lackluster material begins. Like his first album, this release has its share of songs that sound heavily forced. The track "Jimmy Choo" is ridiculous, and not just because of its title. This obviously sounds like a Murder Inc. throw away track that doesn't fit the sequence of the album. If I was to ask "Which track doesn't belong?", this track would without a doubt top the list. It sounds better fitted for Ja Rule, and not even the heavenly vocals of Ashanti on the hook can save this sappy track. 'Behind The Walls' (East Coast Gangsta Mix) is everything but that. It features Kurupt, and its a painful reminder of how far Kurupt has drifted. It sounds like a forced attempt to please the west coast fans. It has your usual token Nate Dogg hook, and even despite the tracks motive, it does nothing in the name of creativity. As if Shyne didn't learn that him and west Coast sounds don't really mix, he gives it another shot on "Here With Me", which also fails. I never thought I'd say this, but after hearing this song..."Where's E-40 when you need him?". Also, the much talked about 50 Cent diss emerges on the album. The sound quality on this track is awful as it sounds like it was recorded over the phone, and there are points where one cant even understand what Shyne is saying. It sounds like a message left on someone's voice mail, and after one listen, it will make you wish that Shyne pressed *3 to erase and re-record However, that takes nothing away from the tracks potency, and it will be interesting to see if 50 will have anything to say in response.
In closing, "Godfather Buried Alive" proves that Shyne is still very capable of offering some street bangers. While it is not as creative as it could be, I'd be lying if I said that the majority of the album doesn't work well. It's the perfect cd to bump in your ride if you like the grimy street tales. Shyne still sounds like B.I.G., and that helps matters to a degree. Not like he is the next Biggie or anything, but the similarity is downright frightening at some points. In recent interviews, Shyne has said the first thing he plans to do when released from prison is to go into the studio and stay there for a long time, because he will have a lot of things on his mind ready to put on wax. If Shyne can maintain the same hunger when he gets out of prison, then his potential to achieve superstardom is inevitable. The buzz surrounding this latest release was crazy. While he is not yet at Godfather status, he proves that he still has a lot of life left in him.