Welcome back Smif N Wesson! With the Cocoa Brovaz dead and gone, Tek and Steele look to rekindle the glory days of Duck Down Records with their long awaited, third LP, Reloaded. As the final chapter in Duck Down's triple threat of albums in 2005, Reloaded does a fair job at recapturing the gritty essence of Smif N Wesson, while staying updated with the times.
It's only right that Da Beatminerz and Smif N Wesson combine for the album's true highlights, which is seen on the standout "Toolz Of The Trade." Over a hypnotizing vocal sample and lush piano keys, Tek and Steele go and back forth trading stellar verses like the days of old. The old school boom bap sounds of "We Come Up" shines bright as well, due to a dope hook and a verse by Talib Kweli.
However, not everything is all-good on the album, as Smif N Wesson get jammed up on a couple of tracks. With a variety of producers, such as Moss, Coptic, Khrysis and Roc Raida, the album lacks direction and cohesion. The Justus League's Khrysis offers two bland efforts with the terrible "Gunn Rap" and "Sick 'Em Son," as his tiresome formula fails to blend with Tek and Steele's gritty personas. In addition, Coptic's played out chipmunk soul on "Here I Stand" is extremely dated.
While its good to hear Tek and Steele back at it, Reloaded only ends up as a solid album and not a great one, due to lukewarm production. With Duck Down Records going through a transitional phase, all three of their summer releases - Smif N Wesson, Buckshot and Sean Price - have been solid but have lacked the dark and vicious beats of the past. Once the label finds the right assortment of producers, then maybe we will get another classic Tek and Steele album.