Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Revisiting C-Murder's "Life Or Death"

Yes loyal reader, you're reading the right blog, lol. Over the next few weeks, I'll be doing something I thought I would NEVER do again, and that's revisit old albums from No Limit Records. I won't go into too many details on the label, mainly because I already did a two part series on them, which you can check below if you haven't done so already:




Obviously, all of my views from that series remain the same, however, I have to make something clear again. I've always have been and always will be biased towards the East Coast (some may call me an "East Coast head") and I'll admit  that in a heartbeat. In addition to the West Coast of course, I have love and respect for artists from the South, specifically Scarface, the Geto Boys, UGK, Outkast, Ludacris, Killer Mike, T.I., Goodie Mob (circa 1995), and over the years I've been hard on that particular region and I still am today (which is another story for another day, lol). As I've said before, No Limit weren't known for their lyricism, to name one thing, but the production by Beats By The Pound (KLC, Craig B, Carlos Stephens, Mo B. Dick and O'Dell) was damn good, quite a distinctive sound at the time, and some of the artists were usually good on the mic, certainly a lot better than their soon to be rivals at the time, Cash Money Records. Beginning with C-Murder's 1998 debut, "Life Or Death", I'm going to go back in time and take a look at what they brought to the hip hop table. I have no problem admitting I was a fan of these guys back in the way, so these posts will not be filled with bashing or anything like that. I'll be 100 percent honest as always, plus I want to provide long time fans some historical context, as well as providing newer fans a look at one of the most powerful independent labels of the late 1990s, and it does allow me to step out my comfort zone, so to speak.


A look at C-Murder


*1/2 of TRU with brothers Master P and Silkk The Shocker

*He was the star of the "TRU 2 Da Game" double album


*Key verses and songs leading up to "Life Or Death"


"Robbery" (a bonus track off the re-issue of P's "The Ghetto's Tryin To Kill Me" album"



Mia X - You Don't Wanna Go 2 War



Master P - Come And Get Some






Release date- March 17, 1998


 
HIGHLIGHTS

Akickdoe! (Featuring UGK)
 and oh GoProduced By: Pimp C
 
Aside from the COMPLETELY unnecessary vocals from P, this was dope as hell, with the signature sound of Bun B and Pimp C hooking up with C.
*Very good*


Constantly N Danger (Featuring Mia X)
Produced By: Craig B

"The world is mine, cause I'm in it/The danger, means no limit/The world is mine, cause I'm in it/My veins, pump No Limit!"


I always liked this one. Listening to it again, I can hear the Pac influence in C's delivery and lyrics, especially during that second verse. Mia X delivered a good verse on this as well.
*Excellent*


Don't Play No Games (Featuring Mystikal and Silkk The Shocker)
Produced By: Craig B

"I ain't playin wit yo bitch ass!!!" 


Right on Mystikal, lol. He definitely steals the show here. C was decent (mimicking Pac AGAIN during the opening moments), and oh God, Silkk's verse NOT good at all. Very good overall though.
*Very good*


Picture Me (Featuring Magic)
Produced By: Carlos Stephens

This was the debut of Magic (or Mr. Magic as he was also called) and he came off pretty good on this one. "Picture me a Tru nigga!"
*Excellent*


On The Run (Featuring Soulja Slim and Full Blooded)
Produced By: KLC

Well, we've all heard songs in hip hop about artists being "on the run" right? You can add this one to the list, as C, Soulja Slim and Full Blooded (still an odd as hell name for an artist) put their No Limit touch on the subject. Slim's verse is the standout.
*Very good*


Get N Paid (Featuring Silkk The Shocker)
Produced By: Craig B

This re-working of Special Ed's classic "I Got It Made", in the case of C's verse, was good. The beat knocks as he talks about an all too familiar topic in hip hop: money. And the less said about Silkk's verse, the better. 
*Very good*


Only The Strong Survive (Featuring Master P)
Produced By: KLC and O'Dell

"Real niggas gon ride, playa haters gon die/Cause after dollars and cents only the strong survive"


That hook tells you all you need to know abou this one, clocking in at 2:22
*Good*


The TRUest Sh..
Produced By: Craig B

This song is somewhat fast paced considering its title, but C's account of his life, to that point, was good, holding nothing back throughout. With an additional verse or two, it could've been a much better song.
*Good*


Makin Moves (Featuring Master P and Mo B. Dick)
Produced By: Mo B. Dick

Aside from P's verse, this apply titled song is decent, straight and to the point.
*Good*


Feel My Pain
Produced By: KLC

"That's why I value family and friends/You lose material shit, you can get it again"


This was almost a continuation of "The TRUest Sh..". You can feel the pain in C's verse here, and it's possibly his most effective song.
*Excellent*


Soldiers (Featuring Master P, Silkk The Shocker, Fiend, Mac, Mia X, Big Ed, Kane & Abel and Mystikal)
Produced By: KLC

I've often said that when the crew got together to make the "soldier songs", they usually delivered, and this one was no different. Over one of KLC's best beats ever, the soldiers get busy, military minded style. Specifically, C, Kane & Abel, Fiend, Mac and Mia X drop dope verses, but Mystikal just about the steals the show again. His line, "before you disrespect me you betta serve 100 Octobers in Angola", is one I've always remembered. Dope stuff here.
*No Limit classic*



Cluckers (Featuring Fiend)
Produced By: Craig B

Ice-T's "Colors" is the direct influence for this Fiend assisted song. It seemingly ends just as you're getting into it.
*Good*


Where I'm From (Featuring Prime Suspects)
Produced By: KLC

Another apply titled cut. Much like a majority of the songs on this album, once you've heard a song like this, you've heard them all, but it's still good.
*Very good*


Riders 
Produced By: KLC

A good, fast paced song. I liked how C used some of the song titles from P's "Ghetto D" album for the second verse. 
*Very good*


Watch Yo Enemies (Featuring Magic)
 Produced By: Carlos Stephens

Magic comes through for another guest appearance, and again, bringing a No Limit perspective to a topic that's been covered many times before and after.
*Very good*


Duck & Run (Featuring Fiend)
Produced By: Craig B

This banger was TOO short, and the only thing missing was a verse from Fiend, who would've killed this track
*Excellent*


The remainder of the album was pretty much hit or miss. Just to name a few, "A 2nd Chance" would've stood out a solo spot for C, but guests P and Silkk said nothing of note, plus I didn't care for the obvious jackin of Soul II Soul's "Back To Life" for the hook. The title track could've been better, but it suffers from a forgettable beat and I never liked "G's & Macks", which was too long, plus the song itself wasn't that good. And last but not least, "Dreams" was allegedly producer KLC's debut on the mic. I never thought it was him, but whoever it was dropped one of the worst raps I've ever heard, over a good beat no less.



This was a solid, fast paced, 3.5 star debut album from C-Murder, and quite frankly, it'll always remain his best album, especially from a production standpoint. The subject matter was repetitive at times, along with the continuous mimicking of 2Pac thoughout, but once you got pass that, it's still solid. He held his own solo style and with guest appearances from other No Limit members, plus this album confirmed he was a much better rapper than his two brothers, which isn't saying much. Overall, it has aged well in spots. Throw it in if you haven't bumped it in a while.

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