Wow, I can't believe I just got around to checking this album out yesterday (I always say better late than never when checking out something hip hop related, especially from the 80s and 90s). This album was on my radar in 1997 when it was released, but I unfortunately never got around to checking it out, and I honestly can't recall whether I saw it in any stores at that point or not. Tracey Lee made a little noise that year with the VERY good "The Theme (It's Party Time)", however, after that, that was essentially it for him unfortunately. If you're like me, one of the LAST times I recall seeing him was on a MTV special dedicated to the Wu-Tang Clan's "Wu-Tang Forever" release, as he was one of many fans in line to cop the classic double album.
For starters, this album was released on March 25, 1997, and for knowledgeable fans, that date should ring a bell, as it was released the same day as The Notorious BIG's (also featured on this album ironically) "Life After Death", not the best timing in the world to be sure. Another interesting fact about this album is how he switches/changes up his flow throughout the album, and it doesn't serve as a distraction at all, no doubt a very creative aspect here (Many Facez is truly apply titled). This album's highlight is the underrated gem "Keep Your Hands High", featuring The Notorious BIG. Although Biggie does steal the show, Mr. Lee does keep up with him in tight fashion, nowhere near sounding out of place on his own song. In addition to that standout, there are great songs up and down the lineup, such as the Busta Rhymes featured "The After Party (The Theme II), as well as the original, the title track, "Stars in the East", "Rugged One", "The Professionals", "Give It Up Baby" and "Clue (Who Shot LR)", just to name a few. Lee's skills on the mic are complimented very well in the form of production from Lee himself, Deric "D-Dot" Angelettie and Ron "Amen-Ra" Lawrence, two of the names from Puff Daddy's "Hitmen", who were responsible for some of the biggest hits in 97.
Overall, I still can't believe I'm just getting around to checking this out, almost 16 years after its initial release. It's an excellent, underrated album that didn't get the shine it deserved in 97, and I feel a re-release would be more than justified, and you can be rest assured that it'll be added to my collection sooner rather than later. Today, Mr. Lee is still putting together party inspired anthems, his latest being "It's About Time", and trust me, it's MUCH better than what you hear on the radio today. You can check that via his Twitter page, @TrayLee.
Oh yeah, a solid 4 star rating for this album.