1) AR Toxic (featuring Kool Keith and Chuck Chilla (guitar)) - The album kicks off with a funky instrumental reminiscent of a mid-90s underground hip-hop banger. The drums are dusty and the subtle guitar on the chorus really adds to the texture of the song. This is a great way to kick off the album since its already got my head nodding like crazy. This is also the first time I've heard Kool Keith in quite a while, but he sounds really good on here. Hopefully he puts out some more music in the near future. I especially love the Big L scratches at the end of the song. This is some dope new hip-hop music with that golden era feel. Fire.
2) Bang Exclusive (featuring Sean Price and Chuck Chilla (on guitar)) - This was the first single released from the album and its raw as hell. Sean P gets busy over a reworked "Blind Man" sample. The last time I heard this beat was on Binary Star's "Slang Blade", but its a bit different on here since Chuck Chilla replays the loop on guitar. Sean P spits the same way he has for years - violent, yet humorous, braggadocio bars with his unique gruff voice and flow. He is definitely one of my favorite underground emcees in the rap industry nowadays.
"Hank McCoy on the wreckin' the beatsVery dope.
I shank ya boy, leave you stretched in the street
The best rapper in the game
Petty crime rhymes, smack a rapper for his chain, P!"
3) Get It (featuring Prince Po) - Prince Po, of Organized Konfusion fame, rips another dope-ass Kid Tsunami instrumental. The beat is energetic, the turntable scratches are ill and Prince Po comes correct. While this song is dope, its not the best track on here so far. It's still really good though.
4) Catch Wreck (featuring O.C.) - This was another of the songs that was released in promotion of the album. The instrumental is smooth, but the boom-bap drums will get your head nodding. O.C. wrecks it as always. He has been releasing albums since 1994 and pretty much always delivers (ignoring "Bon Appetit", which I wasn't really feelin). If you haven't already, make sure you check out his collaboration album with Apollo Brown, "Trophies", because it was definitely one of the best albums of 2012. Anyways, this song is really dope. Another banger.
5) Twothousand40 (featuring Masta Ace) - Masta Ace spits a story over a lighthearted piano loop that has a very carefree feeling to it. The beat feels like summer, which ties into the story perfectly. Masta Ace takes a ride on the train and listens to an old man kick a rhyme.
"I said "Yo old man your rap skills are kinda raw."Of course, the old man is Masta Ace himself and the album is "A Long Hot Summer", which he released back in 2004. Very nice.
He said "I graduated high school in '84
And had a hundred verses back then, maybe more."
He said it'd been about thirty years plus
Since he was on a bus goin around doin a crazy tour
And then he reached into his grey velour
And pulled out a cd that he had dropped way before
I was born, he was on somebodies steps sittin
Holdin a pen and pad, lookin like he had just written
A song, I said "You looked way younger then."
He said "Yeah, that was A Long Hot Summer then."
6) On Course (featuring Thirstin' Howl the 3rd and Sadat X) - The beat on this track is a bit darker than the others preceding it, but its just as ill. The piano is brooding and the drums are gutter. I haven't heard a track by Thirstin' Howl the 3rd in a very long time, but he sounds pretty good on here. Sadat X, fresh off the release of "20 In" with AG and DJ Jab, comes correct as well. This is good, but not a standout track for me.
7) What It Was (featuring J-Live) - J-Live warns listeners not to confuse old school underground rap with the newer, authentic hip-hop. Raps "Golden Era" is over, lets move forward but keep it true to the art form. Dope message and dope song. The beat is banging and those Rakim scratches are ill.
8) No Guarantees (featuring Yesh) - The instrumental on this track has a mellow piano and jazz loop over some dusty boom-bap drums. Yesh spits about how there are no guarantees in life besides having him rip a beat. I like this.
9) Worldwide Connex (featuring Craig G) - Juice Crews own Craig G comes correct over a dope beat that incorporates an ill vocal loop and some deep bass. Its really great hearing these old school emcees coming with new verses over modern day boom-bap instrumentals. Very nice.
10) Take It Back (featuring El Da Sensei) - El Da Sensei, one half of the Artifacts, spits about taking it back to the essence of hip-hop while keeping it modern at the same time. The beat is jazzy, the horn sample is ill and the drums got my head nodding.
"We take it back to when the sound had gritThis is one of my favorite songs on here. Still, I would have loved to hear a verse from Tame One as well.
Political and controversial, but you had to spit"
11) Down Pat (featuring Percee P) - The instrumental on this song keeps in line with the running theme of the album - dope boom-bap beats with a modern twist. The beat is definitely banging and Percee P rips it while spitting some braggadocio bars. Nice.
12) Authentic (featuring Bahamadia) - Another appearance from an emcee I haven't heard in years, this time from Bahamadia. The instrumental has a mellow jazz horn sample over some more dusty drums. Bahamadia comes correct and spits about keeping it authentic. This is dope, but not my favorite on here.
13) The First Letter (featuring A.G.) - Now this is ill. DITC's A.G. bodies another jazzy instrumental that has some beautiful piano keys and old school horns. This song definitely gives me the same feeling I had listening to rap around 1995 or 1996. Shit that you knew was a classic even the first time you listened to it. Definitely dope, especially for the strong nostalgic feel to it.
14) Art Of War (featuring Kool G Rap) - This is a no-brainer. Kool G Rap over an ill boom-bap loop? Absolute fire. The scratching on the chorus is just icing on the cake. Another standout track for me.
15) These Are The Facts (featuring KRS-One) - This album just wouldn't have been complete without a song by KRS-One. The beat is looped with heavy static, dope scratching and dusty drums as KRS spits gems about hip-hop and hip-hop culture, both modern and old school. Nice.
16) The Chase (featuring Buckshot, Chubb Rock, Pharoahe Monche and Jeru The Damaja) - The final song on the album sounds like a lost gem from the golden era of rap. The beat is a boom-bap banger and it's got my head nodding like crazy. Everyone comes correct on the song, but Pharoahe Monche absolutely bodies his verse. What a way to close out the album. Very, very dope.
I'm going to rate the album
4 / 5
because this shit is fire. As always, there are a few tracks I'm not feelin as much as the others, but most of the songs are bangers. The album has a heavy nostalgia factor going for it, since I feel like I'm listening to a mixtape or compilation album from the mid-90s. Despite that, mostly all of the songs on here are updated to not sound dated when compared to other modern day music. Hip-hop enthusiasts are going to love this album and I highly recommend it for anyone looking for that "Golden Era" vibe.