N.O.R.E (aka P.A.P.I) - Student of the Game (Review)

NORE - Student of the Game

Student of the Game is Noreaga's sixth solo album and the first under his new alias - P.A.P.I (Power Always Proves Intelligence). The album was released on April 16, 2013 and features appearances from Raekwon, Busta Rhymes, Pete Rock, Large Professor, French Montana and Swizz Beatz, among others.

1) Kenny Smith Speaks - Skit

2) Student of the Game - The first song on the album has a dope beat, provided by Cookin' Soul, that has a nice boom bap feel to it. Nore spits about his come up and about how long he has been in the industry.
"I'm still doing what I do, way past you
This albums from the heart, sorta feel like I have to
Prove shit, do the new shit, and the true school shit
Wild with the deuces"
This is pretty ill, but that lyric got me wondering how the rest of the album is going to turn out. Hopefully it sounds as good as this first cut because its a banger.

3) Tadow (featuring French Montana, 2 Chainz and Pusha T) - Well I didn't have to wonder long. The beat, by Illa and Inf of Black Ops, is a generic trap music instrumental with some synths and booming bass. French Montana, who provides the chorus, and 2 Chainz are both absolutely terrible. PAPI decides to try and win some new listeners by jumping on the molly bandwagon:
"Money on my mind, molly in my cup
Mixed with that wine, sour in my blunt"

I honestly couldn't even make it to Pusha T's verse to comment on it. There is plenty of "new shit" out there that is much, much better than this.

4) Hang Hang Resume - Skit.

5) The Problem (Lawwwddd) (featuring Pharrell) - Pharrell and Nore reunite and the result is kind of bland. It's not terrible, but its definitely not great. The instrumental is very repetitive and Pharrell doesn't really do much on the chorus. Honestly, the only thing this song really does is make me appreciate Superthug even more.

6) What I Had To Do (featuring Scarface) - The beat on this song, by SPK, is pretty dope and samples Noreaga's own "I Love My Life" off of his first solo album, NORE. As the title of the song suggests, both Nore and Scarface spit about being in the streets and doing what they had to do to survive.
"Peace to my street niggas
My hand to hand dudes
That follow man rules, and give out samples
Yeah, see I was you ten years ago
But blood shed, time served many years ago"
 Dope song.

7) Victor Cruz Speaks - Skit

8) Vitamins (featuring Pete Rock) - The instrumental, by Pete Rock, is hard and has my head nodding. The beat sounds like it contains a sample that is very similar to the one on "Sonny's Missing" off of Raekwon's Only Built 4 Cuban Linx Pt 2, which was also produced by Pete Rock. Nore is spitting pretty well on here. Dope song.

9) Thirsty - Charlie Brown provides a club-friendly, slightly hypnotic instrumental for Nore to spit over. Funny how molly gets mentioned on all the radio friendly songs. This is definitely not as bad as Tadow, but it's not that good either. Not feelin this one.

10) Scot Disick Speaks - Skit

11) Fowl Niggaz - Illa and Inf of Black Ops slightly redeem themselves after the terrible Tadow since the beat on this song is kinda dope. The subject matter is humorous and has Nore listing out a bunch of nefarious things that some people do. Not bad.

12) She Tried (featuring Lil Wayne) - Another humorous song. Illa and Inf of Black Ops return with a smooth instrumental which has Nore spitting about women trying to kiss him after giving head. Lil Wayne is only featured on the chorus, which is probably a good thing considering how bad I Am Not A Human Being 2 was. This song is just aight.

13) Camouflage Unicorns (featuring Tragedy and Havoc) - Scram Jones and DJ Thoro come through with a dope instrumental for a reunited Nore and Tragedy to rock over. I believe this is the first song they have collaborated on since The War Report days. Either way, both Nore and Tragedy come correct while Havoc only provides the chorus. This is pretty dope, but it could have been better if Havoc actually spit a verse and the instrumental was a bit harder. It's still one of the better songs on the album though, and it gets an extra point for the song title.

14) Only Bad Ones (featuring Jeremih) - Charlie Brown returns with another instrumental designed for radio/club play. This song is for "bad bitches only" and I'm not one, so I'll pass. Terrible.

15) God’s Angel (featuring Mick Jones and Chris Jones) - This is Nore's dedication to his fallen homies. The beat, by Hazardis Soundz, is kinda dope and Nore sounds good over it. The chorus, by Mick Jones and Chris Jones, is mediocre and brings the song down a few points, but its still a pretty ill song.

16) Built Pyramids (featuring Large Professor) - Now THIS is dope. The beat by Large Professor is banging and will definitely have your head nodding. Nore is actually spitting on here too.

This is by far the best song on the album. Absolute fire.

17) Faces Of Death (featuring French Montana, Swizz Beatz, Raekwon and Busta Rhymes) - The original Banned From TV is a classic, but this sequel is not. The beat, by Jahlil Beats, is ok, but it ain't touching the original. Both French Montana and Swizz Beats sound pretty bad on here, but Nore, Raekwon and Busta Rhymes all come correct. Sequencing this song after Built Pyramids may make this sound worse than it actually is, but I'm not feeling it either way.

18) Drunkerer - Skit

19) Dreaming (featuring Mayday and Tech N9ne) - The beat, by Charlie Brown, is boring and uninspired. I just want this album to end by this point. Nore sounds ok, I can't remember a single bar that guests Mayday spit, but Tech N9ne rips it (as always). Bleh.

I'm going to rate the album a

3 / 5

because half of this album is really good...and the other half is not. It seems like Nore was confused on what direction he wanted to take with the album since half the songs are boom-bap bangers and the other half are club/radio tracks. I was extremely hyped for this album after hearing Built Pyramids for the first time, but its one of only a handful of tracks that sound like that. The others seem like they were made to try to help Nore get a new audience, but there are many other artists making these same types of songs and making them much better so why would I listen to these? Also, there are way too many skits on the album. I'd recommend copping a few of the tracks (Student of the Game, Built Pyramids, What I Had to Do, Camouflage Unicorns, etc) and then making your mind up about the rest.


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