Tuesday, March 18, 2014

A review of Onyx's "Wakedafucup"

When I first found out that Onyx was releasing a new album, while my first thought was "it's about time", I was also excited, considering that in today's current hip hop landscape, new material from artists who made a name for themselves in the 80s and 90s is certainly very welcomed, no question. Best known for such classics as "Slam", "Throw Ya Gunz", "Shiftee", "Last Dayz" and "Shut Em Down", Onyx has been in the game since 1993, and even though they have ventured into other avenues over the years (movies, TV shows, etc), they haven't forgotten about their hip hop roots, which is a good thing. With a discography spanning three straight quality albums, "Bacdafucup", "All We Got Iz Us" and "Shut Em Down", and the not so memorable "Bacdafucup Pt. 2" and "Triggernometry", this marks Onyx's first album in 10 years. In an added twist, the German production team known as Snowgoons will be behind the boards on the entire album.Sticky Fingaz and Fredro Starr is a two man team this time around, as Sonny Seeza will not be part of this album, confirmed as such by Fredro in an interview with hiphopdx.com on February 24, 2014.There's a little hype surrounding this album, so let's see how it turns out!!

Release date- March 18, 2014

1. Wakedafucup Intro

I believe Fredro mentioned via Twitter that New York hip hop has been sleep for a LONG time now, a sentiment I agree with. This brief intro sets the tone for what's to come.

2. Whut Whut

 Dope opener right here, essentially letting you know Onyx is back and ain't a damn thang changed! Tight start.
*4 out of 5*

3. We Don't Fuckin Care
Featuring A$AP Ferg and Sean Price

What a dope, high powered, apply titled collabo this was. All involved bring their best to this one, however, the only thing I have to "nitpick" is a line from A$AP Ferg's verse. It was good, but the "get thrown off a roof like you Bishop in Juice" punchline has been done to death and seriously needs to be retired. Otherwise, this was dope.
*4 out of 5*

4. Hustlin Hour
Featuring Makempay 

"Hustlin hours/Betta get ya money you ain't touchin ours!"

That above line from the hook tells the oh so familiar story of hustlin, staying on the grind no matter what.Yes, a subject like this has been covered for YEARS in hip hop, but when you get a fresh point of view on the matter, especially from cats who are doing just that, what's there to dislike? Very good stuff here.
*4 out of 5*

5. Buc Bac
The call and response hook was a nice throwback to a time when a hook like that was popular. The dopeness continues on the album with inspired performances by Sticky Fingaz and Fredro Starr.
*4 out of 5*

6. The Tunnel
Featuring Cormega and Papoose

The Tunnel was indeed a hot spot in NY back in the 90s, so of course this song, another dope collabo, much like song #3, is all about reminiscing and taking it back. All four come with dope verses, especially Papoose, who closes things nicely.
 *4 out of 5*

7. The Realest
On the surface this may be nothing we haven't heard before, but the apply titledness of this, to coin a new word, lol, sounds so fresh coming from Onyx.
*4 out of 5*

8. Wakedafucup
Featuring Dope D.O.D.

This decent title track picks up right where the intro left off, definitely time to wake up heads on the East Coast.
*3.5 out of 5*

9. Dirty Cops
Featuring Snak The Ripper

I can say one thing here, I don't think the subject of cops, dirty or otherwise, has been touched on in hip hop in quite some time. Onyx brings their unique perspective, essentially showing that nothing has changed from the 90s to the 2000s as far as law enforcement goes. Same ol ballgame indeed.
*3.5 out of 5*

10. Boom!!

This hype, rowdy, fast paced banger was just begging for a Busta Rhymes verse, as evident by the powaful impact, Scenario sample.
*4 out of 5*

11. Trust No Bitch

Remember "Da Nex Niguz" from their debut "Bacdafucup"? Well, allow me to add an impromptu, unofficial continuation of that song here, lol.

(3/20/14 Update: The Official Onyx Facebook page checked out my review, and while they thanked me for it (it was appreciated), they mentioned that this song "is not about women". I revisited it and they were SO right (not that I doubted them). This joint was all about the change that hip hop has went through over the years, with hip hop turning its back on the industry (ever since the takeover of the South, and I agree) and it clearly hasn't been the same since. I'm not sure how I missed this, but that's exactly what Fredro and Sticky is talking about here, can't trust the game and its been that way for years now. Can we trust it in the future, that's the question.)
*3.5 out of 5*

12. One 4 Da Team
Featuring Reks

When the pressure is tight, take one for the team. I hear that. The underrated but dope Reks stops by to drop a nice verse alongside Fredro and Sticky.
*4 out of 5*

13. Hammers On Deck

Firepower, guns blazin, keep the hammers cocked. Need I say more?!
*3 out of 5*

14. Turndafucup

This closer, another hype and fast paced track, leaves you wanting more, ending things on a dope note.
*4 out of 5*

To start, I'm not saying that Fredro and Sticky couldn't have worked with some top notch producers, but linking up with the Snowgoons was a smart move. Their beats matched the hype, rowdy, amped sound of Onyx, who came through with an inspired sound. That brings me to my next point.

Lyrics/Subject Matter
At this point in their careers, this is about what you would expect from Onyx on the mic, however, they sound so inspired over Snowgoons' production. It's a retro, vintage, 90s type feel, but mixed well with an updated sound, tight enough to please long time fans (such as myself) and newer ones.

Sean Price, Reks, Cormega, Makempay, Dope D.O.D., Papoose, Snak The Ripper and A$AP Ferg all contribute well on the songs they're a part of and do not sound out of place at all.

Overall POV [A true 4 star album. Things may slow down a bit in the middle, but overall this is a solid album from Onyx, obviously their best since 1998's "Shut Em Down". Marking 20 years in hip hop, Fredro and Sticky still sound as hype (and good) as the "Slam" days, further proving that they still have it like most of the veterans from the 90s. Yes, Sonny Seeza's presence is missed, but with or without him, the album is still very good and I'm already awaiting their next moves. Much love, props and respect to Onyx!!!]

Album of the year candidates
1. Prince Po & Oh No - Animal Serum [4.5 stars]
2. Ray West & O.C. - Ray's Cafe [4 stars]
3. Onyx - Wakedafucup [4 stars]
4. Step Brothers (Alchemist & Evidence) - Lord Steppington [4 stars]

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