"Sim-City" is the second album and debut solo LP from Brooklyn producer/emcee Sim-E. The album features guest appearances from Roc Marciano, Smif-N-Wessun, Prince Po, Planet Asia, Chace Infinite, Strong Arm Steady and others and is fully produced by Sim-E himself. It was released on December 9, 2014 via Manafest Vision Media LLC.
1) Simtro (featuring Shabaam Sahdeeq) - The first song on the album finds Sim-E and Brooklyn emcee Shabaam Sahdeeq spitting some boastful bars over a sped up loop with some pianos and boom-bap drums. The beat is dope and both emcees come correct over it, with the song actually ending up being closer to a real song than to an intro. I'm not complaining though. Nice way to start off the album. - 3.5/5
2) Sole Progression (featuring Roc Marciano) - The beat on this cut has a real dark, gritty, 90's vibe to it that you know I'm a huge fan of. Luckily the rhymes are just as good as the production, with Sim-E and Roc Marci ripping the instrumental while kicking their usual boastful rhymes. Even Rock (from Heltah Skeltah) seems to make a quick appearance on the song. This might just be my favorite song on the entire album. Very, very dope. - 4.5/5
3) Paramedixxx (Keep It Goin Remix) (featuring Smif-N-Wessun) - Sim-E links up with the legendary Smif-N-Wessun over another head nodding instrumental centered around a darker, chopped up sample and prominent bassline. The beat and rhymes are good enough, but the chorus doesn't quite click with me and drags the song down a bit. - 3/5
4) Bang^2 (featuring Planet Asia, Chace Infinite, MeccaGodzilla and Prince Po) - This is one of the few posse cuts on the album and it's pretty dope. The song finds Sim-E and company spitting mostly braggadocios bars over another ill instrumental that starts to get a tad too repetitive as the song goes on. Outside of that nitpick, however, the song is real nice. - 3.75/5
5) Heatstroke (featuring Strong Arm Steady) - Sim-E heads out to Cali and hooks up with hip-hop trio Strong Arm Steady over an aggressive sample and hard ass drums. The beat is quite good and all of the featured emcees rip it. I'm feelin this one as well. - 4/5
6) Yo Mama (Snap Break) - Skit.
7) Believin’ - This is the first song on the album that finds Sim-E rhyming solo, which is cool since it allows him to branch out from the mostly boastful bars and instead kick some more positive rhymes about having a vision and trying to make it out of the projects (among other things). The uplifting rhymes clash a little with the darker vibe of the instrumental, but the song actually ends up working nicely as a whole regardless. - 3.5/5
8) Alright (featuring Sean Price) - Sean P and Sim-E spitting some humorously violent bars over a quirky chopped up sample and shuffling drums. This is pretty good, but I was hoping for more honestly. Still, not bad by any means. - 3/5
9) Tired (featuring Sadat X) - This song finds Sim-E and Brand Nubian's Sadat X rapping about being tired of the bullshit that goes on in the rap industry over a vocal loop built up around the word "tired". The beat and rhymes on this cut are dope, especially after the somewhat disappointing last track. - 3.5/5
10) Hazed (Smoke Break) (featuring Olu) - Skit.
11) Str8 Outta...Rmx (featuring Rahsaan (aka DJ Fly Guy) and Ruste Juxx) - While the production on the last four songs (skit included) was centered around more laid-back samples, the beat on this cut brings back the darker, more energetic vibe of the first half of the album. The instrumental bangs and all three rappers sound great over it, especially Ruste Juxx (who's aggressive delivery and content always sounds better over harder instrumentals). Very dope song. - 4/5
12) Cry (featuring Rock (of Heltah Skeltah), Torae and Quelle Chris) - The beat on this cut is also real energetic, with a distorted sample layered over stomping drums that definitely got my head nodding. Just over two and a half minutes into the song, the instrumental changes up to be a bit darker and include some synths, but I prefer the first beat over the second. Lyrically the song is just as good as the production, though, with Sim-E, Rock, Torae and Quelle Chris all ripping the beat(s). Another very dope song. - 4/5
13) Outro (WAR Break) (featuring W.A.R Media) - The final song on the album finds Sim-E spitting some socially conscious rhymes over a DJ Premier-esque chopped up sample and boom-bap drums. The beat and rhymes are dope and end up helping the project close out on a high note. - 4/5
I'm going to rate the album
3.75 / 5
because there are some really great songs on here, but there are also a few that fall short of expectations as well. Mostly all of the production on the album harkens back to the golden era of hip-hop, with Sim-E looping up gritty samples over dusty, boom-bap drums. You're not going to find any songs on here geared for radio play as Sim-E stays true to himself and comes with production that represents both who he is as an artist as well as his hometown of Brooklyn. As far as the rhymes go, they follow the trend of the production with mostly all of the featured emcees sounding right at home over the instrumentals. While they are a few cuts that don't resonate quite as well as the others for me, the majority are really dope and help to make the album an enjoyable listen overall.