Noreaga has had a largely hit and/or miss career since he and Capone's debut album "The War Report", especially on a lyrical level. His solo discography tells the story, as his 1998 debut is an excellent 4 star album (which I still spin today), 1999's "Melvin Flynt Da Hustler" was a huge step down from his debut (even admitted as such by Nore himself), "God's Favorite" from 2001 had a few good songs, but it was largely forgettable, "N.O.R.E. y la Familia... Ya Tu Sabe" and "Noreality" I've never checked out and haven't heard too much feedback about them either, and all of this brings us to his 6th solo album, "Student Of The Game". I'll also admit that after checking out the samples via Amazon, I wasn't impressed, however, I decided to Spotify the album and do a review. Let's take a look!
1. Kenny Smith Speaks
A BRIEF, spoken word intro to begin the album.
2. Student of the Game (Produced By: Cookin Soul)
This is very good song, with Nore sounding very mature of a nice Cookin Soul beat. He details his history and experience in hip hop over the years, almost reflective in a way. 3.5 out of 5
3. Tadow (featuring Pusha T, French Montana, & 2 Chainz, produced by Illa Inf)
Uh oh, smh+lol. I'll get this out the way. I'm a fan of 2 out of the 4 artists here, and I'll let you guess as to who they are, lol. In addition to the standard "female track", nowadays we gotta have something resembling today's "style", if you will, and this song is it, based on the production, the lyrics, and the SILLY as hell hook. Pusha T delivers the ONLY good verse here, everything else can done without. 2 out of 5
4. Hang Hang Resume
Skit time. Next.
5. The Problem (Lawwwddd) featuring and produced by Pharrell
When you think of Nore collaborating with the Neptunes, you immediately think of "Superthug" and "Oh No". This song here right here is merely ok, but nothing special. 2.5 out of 5
6. What I Had To Do (featuring Scarface, produced by SPK)
Doing what you gotta do in tight situations, that is highlighted in this song very well. You'd think that the legendary Scarface would steal the show here, and while his verse is great, showing that he hasn't lost one step at all, Nore more than holds his own and the result is one of the best songs on this album. 4 out of 5
7. Victor Cruz Speaks
8. Vitamins (featuring and produced by Pete Rock)
Vitamins being the somewhat equivalent to alcoholic beverages now, lol? Well, I guess I can forgive that temporarily, lol. Pete Rock hasn't lost a step behind the boards that's for sure. Good song. 3.5 out of 5
9. Thirsty (Produced By: Charlie Brown)
Everybody's thirsty. Well, that may be true. I wish that Nore would've spun this in a different way rather than resulting to something that sounds like what you get on the radio today. Wasted chance right here. 2 out of 5
10. Scott Disick Speaks
11. Fowl N***** (Produced By: Illa Inf)
There are some "fowl" people in this world, and Nore does a decent job in his own way. I definitely could've done WITHOUT the small skit that ends this song. 3 out of 5
12. She Tried (featuring Lil Wayne, produced by Illa Inf)
Oh God, smh. Nore hooks up with another artist I'm NOT a fan of. Don't we hear ENOUGH of these types of songs already? This definitely could've been left off the album, no question. Horrible all around. 0 out of 5
13. Camouflage Unicorns (featuring Havoc & Tragedy, produced by Scram Jones & DJ Thoro)
Odd song title aside, this is kinda dope. Tragedy and Nore provide good verses while Havoc handles the hook. 3.5 out of 5
14. Only Bad Ones (featuring Jeremih, produced by Charlie Brown)
Nothing to hear on this one, down to the lackluster beat, hook, AND lyrics. 1 out of 5
15. God's Angels (featuring Mick Jones & Chris Jones, produced by Hazardis Sounds)
We haven't heard one of these types of songs in a while, an artists' dedication to some friends who are no longer here, probably the 3rd best song on the album. 3.5 out of 5
16. Built Pyramids (featuring and produced by Large Professor)
Large Pro's beat here is great and Nore delivers well over it. All about building from the ground up. 3.5 out of 5
17. Faces of Death (featuring Raekwon, Busta Rhymes, Swizz Beatz, & French Montana, produced by Jahlil Beats)
Uh, can someone tell me what the actual appeal of French Montana is? Anyway, the first thing I want to comment on is the beat, which sounds like a Swizz esque track circa 2000, meaning that it's decent, but nothing special. French Montana and Swizz add NOTHING to this song, while Nore, Busta, and Rae deliver standard verses. Had this been just a Nore, Rae, & Busta collabo over a different beat, this would've been MUCH better. 3 out of 5
Check out that title, smh+lol.
19. Dreaming (featuring Tech N9ne & Mayday, produced by Charlie Brown)
We have heard songs like this done before and better, aside from the complete show stealing verse from Tech N9ne. 2.5 out of 5
Well, this album was not actively good or bad, but it's rather right there in the middle, also having the first ever "0 out of 5" rating for a song. There are a few good songs on this album, but nothing you would find yourself revisiting in any form. It starts off well with the title track, and from there it's largely back and forth/up and down, and that's not a good thing as far as this album goes. The skits, while not long, did this album no favors, and overall, I'd ONLY recommend checking this out if you've been a fan of Noreaga for a long time, otherwise, don't bother.
A generous 3 star rating.