The Legion - The Lost Tapes (Review)

The Legion - The Lost Tapes (Review) (Real Hip-Hop)

"The Lost Tapes" is the latest album from Bronx hip-hop trio The Legion (consisting of Chucky Smash, Molecules and Cee-Low). The album features guest appearances from Dres of Black Sheep, E-Dub, Ralo Square, Droopy Dog and Beneficence as well as production from Buckwild, Showbiz, Confidence and The Legion themselves. It was released on May 20, 2014 via Ill Adrenaline Records.

1) Straight Flow - The album kicks off with a banger that was recorded back in 1993 while The Legion was working on their "Theme + Echo = Krill" album and it doesn't disappoint. The beat and rhymes are both hard as hell and act as a perfect reintroduction to the Bronx trio's aggressive street style and lyrics. Fire track. - 4.5/5

2) Automatic Systematic - This joint is also straight out of the vault and is full of that signature street sound that The Legion is known for, but it tones down the energy level a bit after the more upbeat previous song. The instrumental has a darker feel to it, with some ambient noises and percussion over the head nodding boom-bap drums, and The Legion just rip it lyrically, showing off their chemistry together as they trade off verses. Another dope track - 4/5

3) Stereo - This is one of the new tracks featured on the album and it's real nice, with Chucky Smash, Molecules and Cee-Low all spitting fire over a crazy Buckwild (of D.I.T.C.) instrumental. Despite being a new song, the beat and rhymes featured here keep with the throwback feel of the album and manage to not sound out of place when sequenced in between songs that were recorded back in the 90's. Very dope - 4/5

4) Street Thing - This song features another pretty ill instrumental consisting of a vocal loop and a jazzy horn sample over stomping drums, but it's not hitting me quite as hard as the others so far. Lyrically the song is pretty good though, with The Legion kicking some more street rhymes about being legends on the block and repping NYC. While it's not my favorite song on here, it's still pretty good. - 3.5/5

5) Live On Arrival (featuring E-Dub, Ralo Square and Droopy Dog) - This is the only real posse cut on the album and it features The Legion sharing the mic with E-Dub, Ralo Square and Droopy Dog over a gritty and raw instrumental. The vocals on this song have a strong echo effect to them, which gives the track a unique feel but starts to get a little tiresome by the end of the song. Despite that criticism, this track is still nice. - 3.5/5

6) Sky’s The Limit (featuring Dres of Black Sheep) - I believe this song was originally released on a Dres special limited edition vinyl way back in 1997 and it's always been real dope to me. The beat's got my head nodding just like it did back when I first heard it and the rhymes are ill, with everyone on here rapping about grinding for that dough and how the sky is the limit. Nice. - 4/5

7) Caught Up - This song was the B-Side on the "Street Thing / Caught Up" vinyl that dropped back in 98 and its still nice. The beat has a sort of lighter feel to it than some of the other beats on here, but it's still full of that grimy hip-hop sound at the same time. Lyrically The Legion sounds good on here as well, kicking more of their usual street rhymes about getting caught up in the game. Dope. - 4/5

8) Freestyle Demolition (featuring Droopy Dog) - I believe this track was only ever released as a rare 12" single that dropped back in 1994 or so, but I've never had a chance to hear it until now. The beat has a real gritty, hardcore feel to it with some crazy organs and boom-bap drums that sound real ill when coupled with the aggressive rhymes and flows of all the featured emcees. The Legion sounds real hungry on this one. Dope - 4/5

9) Keep Your Eyes Open - The beat on this joint uses the same sample as Mobb Deep's classic track "Still Shinin'", but this song was actually recorded before "Hell on Earth" even dropped which is kinda cool. The beat is banging and The Legion come through and rip it, spitting some more street rhymes about watching your back and not getting caught slippin'. I'm really feelin' this one. - 4.5/5

10) Street Truth - The Legion kicks some of that "street truth" over a slower, more dreary beat that sounds like it samples Issac Hayes' "Walk On By". I've never heard this track until now, but I'm feelin' the beat and rhymes on here. Nice - 3.5/5

11) Aim, Fire, Spit (featuring Beneficence) - This cut is originally from Beneficence's "Sidewalk Science" album that dropped back in 2011, but it fits in nicely with the feel of this project as well. The instrumental is real nice, with another similar sample (that I can't place for some reason), and ill rhymes by The Legion and Beneficence. - 3.5/5

12) For You - This is another of the new songs on the album and it's real dope. The beat has a much lighter feel than many of the other instrumentals on the album, with a smooth sample and a Biggie vocal loop on the chorus. As far as the rhymes go, The Legion comes through and kick some less violent rhymes about how they are OG's in this hip-hop shit. Very dope. - 4/5

13) Revenge - Now back to the street tracks. This song is actually a Molecules solo joint that was recorded back in 1995 and it's fire. The beat, by Showbiz (of D.I.T.C.), is dark and gritty, with a murky sample layered over the boom-bap drums, and Molecules rips it, spitting a street tale of revenge. Very dope. - 4/5

14) Stereo (Remix) - The final song on the album has the same vocals as the original, but layered over a new beat by Confidence (of Rashad & Confidence) that features some funky guitars and a blaring horns. Dope remix, but I think I prefer the original just a tad. - 3.75/5

* The album actually has six instrumental tracks after this song, but I'm only reviewing the vocal tracks in this write-up. *

I'm going to rate the album

4 / 5

because it's real nice. The album is mostly made up of rare and unreleased joints from the 90's, but there are a few new tracks on here as well that will give even the more hardcore diggers something fresh to listen to. I must admit that I hadn't heard all of the rare tracks before listening to this album, making this project that much more of a gem because those tracks were fresh to me as well. Couple that with the fact that most of the tracks sound like they were remastered and you definitely have a banger. If you like your beats and rhymes rough, rugged and raw, make sure you peep the album.


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