Friday, February 13, 2015

The LOX Project: Living Off Xperience






I was first introduced to The Lox in 1997, via the following songs:





These joints, a few others, appeared on several mixtapes, with the latter getting spun on DJ Clue's "Show Me The Money Part 1" (I need to revisit this one too). I really liked what I heard from these guys (especially after "You'll See") and they had a respectable amount of buzz on their way to Bad Boy Records. Speaking of the label, they had some pretty good guest appearances on albums from Biggie ("Life After Death"), Puff Daddy ("No Way Out"), and Mase ("24 Hours To Live"). I also can't forget about the memorable freestyle with Biggie on Funkmaster Flex's Vol. 2 mixtape. All of this had my anticipation quite high for their 1998 debut, "Money, Power, & Respect". I was in the 8th grade when it dropped, copping it a few weeks after its release from Target. The always present nostalgia as you know.

And of course, this is a very good way to start this LOX  project, which will cover their two group albums and all of their solo work.




Release date: January 13, 1998



1. "Yonkers Tale (Intro)"
Produced By The Lox and Deric "D-Dot" Angelettie
The "Bronx Tale" influenced start serves as a fitting intro to the 3 man crew and the album, leading us into.....


2. "Livin' The Life"
Produced By Sean "Puffy" Combs and Richard "Younglord" Frierson 

"L-O-X, three letter word, black mob/Wit every last member of the team on the job/Whether it be controllin the street, holdin the heat/Really don't matter to me, long as we eat" -Jadakiss


After two good verses by Styles and Sheek, Jada not only comes through with an equally good verse of his own, but his last four lines accurately describe this song in a nutshell. Very good, fast paced, and straight to the point.
*4 out of 5*


3. "If You Think I'm Jiggy"
Produced By Dame Grease



Well at the time, apparently some people didn't like the interpolation of Rod Stewart's "Do You Think I'm Sexy", some people didn't like Lox sounding "too commercial" (keep in mind this was the signature Bad Boy sound at this point), most didn't like them in the shiny suits. Now, I can't speak for everyone, but this first single sold me on the album and I still like it to this day (never had a problem with it). Years after this album's release, the crew never had anything good to say about this song and I wonder how they feel about it in 2014. Either way, this was (and still is) dope.
*4 out of 5*


5. "The Interview (Part I) Interlude"
The crew talks about money, power, and respect, specifically what it means to them, which perfectly leads us into.....


6. "Money, Power, & Respect"
Featuring DMX and Lil' Kim
Produced By Deric "D-Dot" Angelettie and Ron "Amen-Ra" Lawrence



Oh man, you know I went crazy when I first heard this one. Not only does this classic still hold up today (probably the ONLY Lox song that still receives radio play in my area), but my mom was a big fan of this song when it came out and probably still is today. All involved bring the goods. Lil Kim was cast perfectly on the hook and the hot DMX, whose buzz (and following) was growing with every appearance he made, closed this one in show stealing fashion.
*5 out of 5*



7. "Get This $"

Produced By Sean "Puffy" Combs and J-Dub

There was no shortage of songs about money coming from the Bad Boy camp at this point. This was another one in the series if you will.
*4 out of 5*


8. "Let's Start Rap Over"
Featuring Carl Thomas
Produced By Dame Grease, Co-Produced By J-Dub

After listening to this one again, this was more about reminiscing on the good ol days of years gone by as opposed to "taking it back to the essence", respectively. Of course hip hop plays a key role when thinking about the good times. The sampling of Miles Jaye's "Let's Start Love Over" was a nice touch.
*4 out of 5*


9. "Madd Rapper (Interlude)"
Lol, another hilarious Madd Rapper interlude/skit.


10. "I Wanna  Thank You"
Featuring Kelly Price
Produced By Nashiem Myrick

I really like this one right here. The crew just simply take the time out to thank God for everything, nothing wrong with that. Alicia Myers' "I Want To Thank You" served as the inspiration for the hook in another nice touch.
*4 out of 5*


11. "Goin' Be Some Shit"
Sheek
Produced By Nashiem Myrick and Carlos "Six July" Broady

Sheek flexed his lyrical muscles solo style on this appropriately titled song, complete with well timed samples courtesy of MC Lyte's "Shut The Eff Up Hoe!".
*4 out of 5*

12. "The Heist (Part 1)"
Jadakiss and Styles
Produced By Sean "Puffy" Combs and Rob "Arsee" Carter

In a precursor of things to come, Jada and Styles show what they could do when it was just the two of them and that chemistry is still present today. This song shows their storytelling abilities with a "heist" that's easy to follow and understand. I don't think we ever got part 2 either.
*4 out of 5*


13. "Not To Be Fucked With"
Styles
Produced By Dame Grease and Sean "Puffy" Combs


Styles excels solo style on this nice, apply titled song.
*4 out of 5*


14. The Set Up (Interlude)


15. "Bitches From Eastwick"
Produced By Carl "Chucky" Thompson and Deric "D-Dot" Angelettie


I always loved the bassline on this one. The crew delivers more storytelling, this time covering their adventures with some of the wildest women they would come in contact with, some of whom had ulterior motives. 
*4 out of 5*


16. "Can't Stop, Won't Stop"
Featuring Puff Daddy
Produced By Sean "Puffy" Combs and Deric "D-Dot" Angelettie, Co-Produced By Stevie J.


Much like "If You Think I'm Jiggy", this is another song that epitomized the Bad Boy sound. Decent song.
*4 out of 5*


17. "All For The Love"
Jadakiss
Produced By Swis-Beatz 


As far as I'm concerned, this marked the official debut of Swizz Beatz and he provided Jada with a hell of a banger. Jada was definitely out to show and prove with his solo spot.
*5 out of 5*




18. "So Right"
Featuring Kelly Price
Produced By Sean "Puffy" Combs and Ron "Amen-Ra" Lawrence


The crew may have been aiming for a little more radio play with this one, especially with it's Cheryl Lynn's "Encore" sample, which was one of the more popular songs to sample at this point
*3 out of 5*


19. "The Snitch (Interlude)"


20. "Everybody Wanna Rat"
Produced By Pent P.K., Co-Produced By Dame Grease


Snitching became too cool at some point in the mid 90s, and quite a few songs were made about it. Lox's version details the downfall that such acts of betrayal can bring, from a street perspective.
*4 out of 5*


21. "The Interview (Part II) Interlude"


22. "We'll Always Love Big Poppa"
Produced By Dame Grease 


It can be argued for obvious reasons that this may be The Lox's finest hour, but make no mistake about it, this was a heartfelt tribute to the late Notorious B.I.G. and it was a very fitting way to close their first album.
*5 out of 5*


 


This 4 star album still holds up exceedingly well today. Jada, Styles, and Sheek did a very good job with their debut, backed by some dope lyrics and production. It is a classic? No it isn't, but I was satisfied with it. Things would change drastically for them heading into their second album. (I'll have a little more to say about this album during the coverage of "We Are The Streets".)




 
As I mentioned up top, going into this album, things had drastically changed for Lox, so let's continue with 98 and 99 heading into the year 2000. When you take into account the buzz they had before their first album dropped,  the multiple guest appearances, in and outside of Bad Boy (including the classic "It's All About The Benjamins Remix), and the response to the "Money, Power, & Respect" album (shooting to #1 on the Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums" chart and sitting at #3 on the Billboard 200), their tenure at Bad Boy was largely a success in my book, however, the crew was apparently not happy with the label or the direction of their careers, and that includes the "shiny suits", lol. But seriously, they were not happy and they set out to do something about it.When working things out directly with the label didn't work, they truly took things to the next level, starting a "Let The LOX Go" campaign to be released from their contract. The mounting pressure was too much for Bad Boy, so they literally had no choice but to release them, truly a historic moment in hip hop, for the right and/or wrong reasons depending on your perspective. They quickly linked up with Ruff Ryders (by way of Interscope Records), which turned out to be a great fit for them, now going by Sheek Louch and Styles P for maximum effect (the Jadakiss named remained). As you would imagine, the buzz for this album was a little bit bigger than the first time around, and with ALL this being said, let's continue on to the year 2000!


Release date: January 25, 2000 (Sidenote: Ghostface Killah's second album "Supreme Clientele" was scheduled to be released on this same day, but was wisely pushed up to a February 8th release date. Can you imagine these two albums indirectly going "head to head"? Wow.)




1. "Intro (Skit)"
Everyone had something to say about The Lox, directly leading us right into.....

2. "F*** You"
Produced By Swizz Beatz

All it took was two words here, lol. The crew goes in on the haters, naysayers, and everyone who thought they wouldn't make it at that point in their careers. There's some serious aggressive, lyrical heat on this one.
*5 out of 5*




3. "Can I Live"
Featuring Kasino
Produced By Swizz Beatz

You can argue that songs with this title have been done to death, but it's one of those that when done right, something dope will come out of it (plus Lox had done a song with Black Rob on his "Life Story" album with this title), and that's what we get with this Kasino assisted banger. By the way, I wonder what happened to Kasino.
*5 out of 5*




4. "Built For Bodies (Skit)"
I'm sure you know what this skit consisted of, lol.


5. "Breathe Easy"
Produced By P.K.

"We gon R-U-double F R-Y-D-E/Revolver, semi-automatic in the PG/Hooptie, get away driver, breathe easy/Explain things further, murder or get murdered"


For some reason, P.K. was never recognized for the work he put in with the Ruff Ryders, definitely an underrated producer. We get another aggressive banger here, and the hook above sums it up well.
*4 out of 5*


5. "Felony N*****"
Styles P
Produced By Swizz Beatz

Pretty good solo showcase here with Styles P.
*4 out of 5*


6. "Wild Out"
Produced By Swizz Beatz

The album's first single definitely created such a good amount of buzz, plus how could you not like an apply titled song like this?! All involved "wiled out" on this one, especially on the video. You can also say this was a celebration of sorts with Lox leaving Bad Boy. Dope stuff here.
*5 out of 5*




7. "Blood Pressure"
Jadakiss
Produced By Swizz Beatz

I'll tell you one thing, after this banger from Jada, the buzz was certainly on for his debut solo album, and we would get that just one year later.
*5 out of 5*




8. "Recognize"
Featuring Eve
Produced By DJ Premier





This was the first time the crew linked up with Premo, and what resulted was a banger, yes indeed. Recognize!
*5 out of 5*





 
9. "Rape'n U Records (Skit)"
Funny skit.


10. "Y'all F***** Up Now"
Produced By Swizz Beatz

After continuous bangers from the start of the album, this was decent in comparison, nothing more.
*3 out of 5*


11. "Scream L.O.X."
Produced By P.K.

Living off (e)xperience, that's Jada, SP, and Sheek all day.
*4 out of 5*


12. "U Told Me"
Featuring Eve
Produced By Swizz Beatz


One of the main issues I had with this song is that it was about 1 minute and a half too long. It's not a bad song, just a little too long for what this was.
*3 out of 5*

13. "Brains... (Take: 1) Skit"
A rather pointless skit.


14. "Ryde Or Die, Bitch"
Featuring Eve and Timbaland
Produced By Timbaland


    
  
I'm sure all the fellas could testify to wanting a chick that's "down for whatever". In any event, once you've heard a song like this, you've heard them all, but overall this Timbaland produced joint was fine.
*4 out of 5*


15. "Bring It On"
Sheek Louch
Produced By Swizz Beatz


Sheek dares you to test his gangsta on this apply titled song. 
*3 out of 5*


16. "If You Know"
Featuring Drag-On, Eve, and Swizz Beatz
Produced By Swizz Beatz


Aside from a needless appearance from Swizz (I got mad love for him, but he never should've picked up a mic), this was very good. A DMX verse would've made more sense I think.
*3.5 out of 5*


17. "We Are The Streets"
Produced By Swizz Beatz


This title track closer was Lox's final shot at Puff Daddy. These guys just let loose most, if not all, of their frustrations and made it clear they were happy with Ruff Ryders.
*4 out of 5*


Before I offer my thoughts on this album, I want to bring their debut back into the picture. Believe it or not, there was a point in time when I felt "Money, Power, & Respect" was better than "We Are The Streets" (please don't ask me why, lol). I'm not sure what I was thinking, but it took me quite some time to change my mind, because their debut simply does not hold a candle to album number two. The second time around, we got a more focused, aggressive, and inspired Lox, and you almost get the impression that they were held back a little bit during their Bad Boy tenure, because they let loose on all levels here (along with completely burying the "shiny suits" throughout this album, lol). Lyrically they were more sharp and the production fit them so well. The ONLY thing that MP&R had that was an edge over WATS was the storytelling, which was lacking on this album. In the end, it rests comfortably with a 4.5 star rating (the first half was fire, things tended to slow down a bit on the second half).




Release date: August 7, 2001 



1. "Intro"
 A few spoken words from Jada starts his debut album. "I'm here now".


2. "Jada's Got A Gun"
Additional Vocals By E. McCaine and Antoine Stanton
Produced By Swizz Beatz

"Violatin get you one in your throat/You still dating your heat, but me and my guns elope/When I die bury me wit the toast/In case I run into a little bit of drama wherever I go"

Jada comes with an aggressive side here, and that would basically be the case when an artist is talking about and form of (lyrical) gunplay. GOOD song.
*4 out of 5*


3. "Show Discipline"
Featuring Nas
Produced By Mahog

A pretty good collaboration with Nas right here. Even the most street smart, consistent individuals still need to show discipline in most endeavors.
*4 out of 5*


4. "Knock Yourself Out"
Additional Vocals By Pharrell
Produced By The Neptunes

To this day, I'm not sure if this or "Put Yo Hands Up" was the first single from this album (it likely was this joint). Looking back, this was sort of hard enough for the fellas, but the vibe was definitely for the ladies. I also remember a few homies not being too impressed with this song, specifically a former co-worker of mine named Shamon. He was already predicting a more commercial sound when he heard that "I'll show you how to do my dance" line, lol. I can't front though, I thought this song was good at the time and it sounds the same 14 years later.
*4 out of 5*


5. "We Gonna Make It"
Featuring Styles
Produced By The Alchemist

I often heard a story that this banger of a beat by Alchemist was originally intended for Ras Kass, but something happened and Jada ended up with it instead. Jada and Styles bring their ever so dope back and forth, tag team chemistry on this classic. And you wanna know how dope this is? Check this out, my mom LOVED this song back in the day (likely because of the beat, she never quite paid attention to the lyrics, lol, and she'll tell you too) and if that doesn't tell you anything I don't know what will, lol.
*5 out of 5*



6. "None Of Y'all Betta
Featuring Sheek and Styles    
Produced By DJ Premier

Much like "Recognize" from the "We Are The Streets" album, this DJ Premier produced song is quite the banger as well, and when you get all three members of the LOX on a song, you know what to expect!
*5 out of 5*



7. "Stick Yourself" (skit)


8. "I'm A Gangsta"
Featuring Parle
Produced By P.K.

This is apply titled to be sure. Even at this point, a song like this was nothing we haven't heard before, but it's decent for the most part. (Parle was a short lived group that was part of the Ruff Ryders family.)
*3 out of 5*


9. "Nasty Girl"
Featuring Carl Thomas
Produced By Timbaland

   Like you even have to ask what this song was about and who it was aimed at, lol. Again, another decent song, nothing more or less.
*3 out of 5*


10. "Put Ya Hands Up"
Produced By Wayne-O

"Kiss the game goodbye, the game is mine/You thought wrong, change your mind"


 Yes indeed, I've always loved this joint right here, and now when I think about it, I may have heard this one before I heard "Knock Yourself Out". This is dope all around, featuring a nice, East Coast inspired "call & response" hook, probably the 3rd best song on this album.
*5 out of 5*



11. "Jay Jerkin' (skit)"
Funny skit, lol.
 

12. "On My Way"
Additional vocals and production by Swizz Beatz

I never got a chance to hear what Shamon thought of this one, lol. Jada talks about going all over the country to meet his ladies (California, New York, Atlanta, New Orleans, Detroit, Chicago, Philadelphia, Texas, and Miami). I may be overrating it, but I found myself liking it quite a bit.
*4 out of 5*


13. "Crusin"
Featuring Snoop Dogg
Additional Vocals by O.D. and Rita
Produced By DJ Shok

This was ok, but for the first time collabo between Jada and Snoop, this should've been much better than what we got.
*3 out of 5*


14. "Kiss Is Spittin"
Featuring Nate Dogg
Additional Vocals by Mashonda
Produced By E. McCaine Edition, Co-Produced By Swizz Beatz

I remember not being too crazy about this one back in the day, probably because the sample used, Michael McDonald's "I Keep Forgettin' (Every Time You're Near)", was utilized better by Warren G for his classic "Regulate". Revisiting it again, this song is very good and Kiss does "spit" throughout.
*4 out of 5*


15. "Fuckin' Or What?"
Produced By Swizz Beatz



Ok, one song too many for the ladies. This was the unfortunate low point of the album.
*2 out of 5*


16. "It's Time I See You"
Featuring Drag-On, Cross, Infa-Red, Eve, Sheek and Styles
Produced By Just Blaze

I think Jada was on Rap City prior to this album's release, and I remember being hyped when he said "I got the Just Blaze joint on the album" (I was already aware of how dope Just Blaze was at this point). Although I could've done without Cross' Tim McVeigh line, this was straight Ruff Ryder dopeness. All involved came through with tight verses over an equally tight Just Blaze track.
*4 out of 5*


17. "What You Ride For?
Featuring Fiend, Yung Wun  and Eightball
Produced By Fiend

 I remember Fiend from his previous work with No Limit Records, so I was legitimately surprised to see him on this album. This collabo was dope just like the one before it, with more of an obvious Down South flavor for this one.
*4 out of 5*


18. "Un-Hunh!"
Featuring DMX
Produced By Rated R and Mas

Ok, this song was very good, I always liked it, but I gotta talk about something right quick. I always thought that X and Jada were going at Jay-Z and Beanie Sigel on this one (Jada did throw a few shots at Sigel, I'll admit that) and when you listen VERY closely to this song, it truly sounds that way. It's never really been confirmed whether this was a tag team effort or not, and while Jay and X always had tension over the years, Jada and Sigel did go back and forth for a bit with a few disses that emerged shortly after the summer of 2001. They would squash their beef years later.
*4 out of 5*



19. "Feel Me (skit)"
Produced By The Alchemist


Ok, question. Even though this song was 2:01, WHY wasn't this an actual song?? It was very good and probably the most introspective song on this album. Make this an actual song and take off "Fuckin Or What", "I'm A Gangsta", and probably "Cruisin" and you have a more balanced album in my view. I'm going to give this "skit" a "4 out of 5" rating.



20. "Keep Ya Head Up"
Featuring Ann Nesby
Produced By Mahog, Co-Produced By Chucky Thompson

This was a VERY positive way to close the album and much props to Jada for resurrecting the forgotten gem "Optimistic" by the Sounds of Blackness (in terms of the samples). 
*5 out of 5*




21. "Charge It (skit)"
Not sure why this 5:01 skit was tacked on at the end.



 For a debut, this was very good and it's a little better than what I remembered, even though I initially copped this one about a week or so after it came out. Songs 2-7 are straight heat, with the exception of the banger "Put Ya Hands Up", things slow down between songs 8-15 and it picks right back up with "It's Time I See You" and the rest of the album from there. This debut was also a success for Jada, moving 204,000 units in its first week, earning a Gold certification on September 21, 2001 (moving a total of 877,000 units to date). 4 stars for this one.




Release date: July 9, 2002




 
1. "Intro"
The standard intro sets things right in motion for.....

2. "Good Times"
Produced By Swizz Beatz and Saint Denson

"I get high as a kite, I'm in the zone all alone/Muthafucka cause I'm dyin tonight"


Well, as a ode/homage to getting high (or should I say getting lifted, lol), this is certainly up there and it's probably Styles' peak in terms of radio and TV exposure. And no you're not imagining things, there was a time when a song like this graced radio and TV and I don't recall there ever being a backlash about it due to the content, which is likely because the song was THAT dope. The way Swizz and Saint Denson utilized Freda Payne's "I Get High (On Your Memory)" is nothing short of amazing.
*5 out of 5*

 

3. "Y'all Know We In Here"
Featuring Swizz Beatz and P.K.
Produced By P.Killer Trackz

This, like many songs on this album, is Styles in his true element: aggressive yet confident, gangsta yet refined. Also, I gotta admit that Swizz was good on the hook here, he did NOT need to drop a verse.
*4 out of 5*

4. "A Gangster and a Gentleman"
Produced By The Alchemist

On this appropriately titled banger, Styles talks about his beginnings in the 70s to his teenage years becoming fascinated with the hustler's lifestyle, while at the same time dedicating the song to gangsters and gentleman alike. At the end of the day, he hones the best aspects of both in a hip hop form.
*5 out of 5*


5. "Black Magic"
Featuring Angie Stone
Produced By The Alchemist

"And I never practice voodoo/But it's like black magic how I spit this fluid to niggas"


"Ruff Ryder/D-Block poetry in motion" is what I want to call this, lol. Either way, this Angie Stone assisted song is pretty damn good. 
*5 out of 5*

  

6. "Daddy Get That Cash"
Featuring Lil' Mo
Produced By The Rockwilder and DJ Twinz

I remember not feeling this one too much back in the day, not sure why. It's not your average "song for the ladies". I mean, it's cool enough for the ladies (Styles is motivated by the fairer sex to get the money) and still hard enough for the fellas. Good song.
*4 out of 5*

7. "Lick Shots"
Featuring Jadakiss, Sheek and J-Hood
Produced By Swizz Beatz

Styles, Jada, Sheek and J-Hood lick shots (aka "give shoutouts") to the hood, the poor, the rich, the crew and all things related on this banger.
*5 out of 5*
 


8. "And I Came To..."
Featuring Sheek and Eve
Produced By Swizz Beatz

Lyrically this is not bad at all, but Swizz's beat leaves a lot to be desired considering his other tight beats on this album. And him mimicking the beat towards the end was NOT needed (lol).
*2.5 out of 5*

9. "Get Paid"
Produced By Mr. Devine

Well, this is not on the level of "Daddy Get That Cash" that's for sure. An ok song, but nothing special.
*3 out of 5*

10. "Ass Bag (Skit)"
A funny skit, lol.

11. "I'm A Ruff Ryder"
Featuring Jadakiss
Produced By P.Killer Trackz

With Jada providing the hook on this appropriately titled song, Styles comes through with some aggressive bars, not that this was anything new to him. Dope stuff here.
*4 out of 5*

12. "Soul Clap"
Produced By DJ Shok

This is a decent song, but Shok did not bring the goods all the way when sampling Kool & The Gang's "Soul Vibrations" (think of how dope A Tribe Called Quest's remix to "Scenario" was and still is).
*3 out of 5*

13. "We Thugs (My Niggas)"
Featuring Jadakiss and Sheek
Produced By DJ Clue and Duro

When you get all three members of the Lox on a track, you can expect dopeness and that's what we get here, in a back and forth, 3 way format, which works quite well.
*4 out of 5*

14. "Styles"
Featuring Jadakiss
Produced By P.Killer Trackz

It doesn't matter whether you call him Styles, Styles P, SP, the Ghost, Paniro, Holiday Styles, he's still Styles all day, everyday.
*4 out of 5*

15. "Barbershop (Skit)"
This skit was about 2 minutes too long. Don't get me wrong, some knowledge is kicked on the skit, but it should've been short, sweet and to the point, plus it sounded like something that should've begun the album rather than be placed in the middle.

16. "Listen"
Produced By Tank

A fast paced, deep song right here, which finds Styles talking about key things that affected our communities in 2002 (and today when you think about it). On a small note, another sample was not used effectively, in this case Al Green's classic "Love & Happiness".
*4 out of 5*

17. "Niggas Flippin (Skit)
Featuring Styles and Garf  

18. "Y'all Don't Wanna Fuck"
Featuring M.O.P.
Produced By Tuneheadz

A true banger, assisted by Lil Fame and Billy Danze of M.O.P. I've often said that if M.O.P.'s aggressive style doesn't rub off on you, you're definitely on the wrong song and of course no one disappoints here.
*5 out of 5*



19. "Shit Done Changed (Skit)"
Featuring Styles and Garf

20. "Nobody Believes Me"
Featuring Sheek, Cross and J-Hood
Produced By DJ Shok

This is a very creative song, in the sense that we receive accounts from the men saying that certain elements, particularly guns, knives, and money, talk to each of them, and even though they respond in kind, no one believes them. This may be something a little different, but as a song it's good.
*4 out of 5* 

21. "Dedication (Skit)"
This album was dedicated to Styles' brother, who is talked about on the next song. 

22. "My Brother"
Produced By Mr. Devine

This was quite the heartfelt tribute to Styles' brother who is no longer with us. I'm pretty sure his brother continues to smile in heaven because of this nice song.
*5 out of 5*



23. "Outro"
Words of wisdom from Styles to close the album. 

*24. " The Life"
Featuring Pharoahe Monch
Produced By Ayatollah  

A pretty good bonus track, with the underrated Pharoahe Monch on the hook. Yes, if you've heard a song like this before, you've heard them all, but this one was still a welcomed addition to the album, even as a bonus track.
*4 out of 5*



Before I give my overall thoughts on this album, I gotta talk about one thing: the skits. There were far too many of them and although they weren't actively bad, they were not needed and only served to interrupt the flow of the album. Continuing on, much like Jada did with his debut, Styles dropped a very good album and more than proved he was able to hold things down on the solo tip. There were a few average moments here, but overall it's a very good, 4.5 star album, deserving the Gold certification it received on October 11, 2002.






Release date: September 16, 2003




1. "OK"
Produced By Cocoa Chanelle

Sheek's debut solo album begins with a party vibe, but still rugged around the lyrical edges.
*4 out of 5*

2. "Turn It Up"
Produced By The Alchemist

Over the signature sound of the Alchemist, Sheek comes with the hardcore, D-Block style.
*4 out of 5*

3. "How Many Guns"
Produced By Vinny Idol and Supa Mario

Whether it's with the lyrics or the guns, you can still expect some kind of heat from Sheek, and that's what we get on this banger. Ask yourself: who's "gooder" or hooder than Sheek?
*4 out of 5*

4. "In/Out (S.P.)
Featuring Styles P
Produced By Vinny Idol and Supa Mario

"I don't know nobody fuckin wit us/I ain't Jerome Bettis but if I hit you it's gon feel like The Bus" -Sheek


Although the "tag team" style of the Lox would come more in the form of Jada and Styles (in later recordings), Sheek and Styles take that same aggressive approach here and do a damn good job with it.
*4 out of 5*

5. "I Ain't Forget"
Produced By Vinny Idol and Supa Mario

This a very good, introspective type look at the career of the Lox at this point in 2003, however, I gotta speak on a few things here.


"I knew it was on when I got with Sean (Puff Daddy/P. Diddy Combs)/But I caught up in the mix of some glittery shit/18, him and Mase makin mills wit it/I ain't mad but that shit wasn't me"


I talked about this quite a bit during the "We Are The Streets" review, and here Sheek again confirms that the "shiny suits" just wasn't them at all. Looking back to that era, it wasn't that bad, but he, along with Jada and Styles really begin to bring out their true styles on the mic when they left Bad Boy. 

"We Are The Streets, they couldn't wait for it/Interscope couldn't wait to get a plate for it/Grammy night, couldn't wait to get a date for it/Not, we sold over Gold/Finally reached Platinum status and near that is"


As mentioned up top, "We Are The Streets" was a heavily anticipated album, even moreso than "Money, Power & Respect". It was great that they were able to reach Platinum status, but a Grammy nod? Respectively, I didn't see that happening and that's not to say I thought they were undeserving of the nomination (they were).

"Jadakiss dropped a solo (album) they lovin his voice/I'm lovin his shit but the hood thought it was moist"


I do remember a good amount of mixed feedback, amongst people I know/knew, in terms of Jada's debut. Some thought it was tight, some thought he was aiming for a more commercial sound. Whatever the case may be, it was still a very good album.

"Styles P dropped Gangster and a Gentleman/Hard, no need to speak but the promotion was weak"


I agree with Sheek on all of this here. The promotion for Styles' debut could've been much better and like I said during the review of that album, "Good Times" was his peak in terms of radio and TV exposure, but that would change a few years later.

"Sheek never had solo plans/Till I dropped a freestyle in the studio wit one of my mans"


And that loyal reader is how we thankfully ended up with this debut and some additional deals for the crew!
*4 out of 5*

6. "Walk Witt Me"
Produced By Liveson

On what is the deepest song on the album, Sheek is openly talking about the changes he would like to see in the world (and for the record Sheek, you weren't asking for too much). At the end of the song, he admits that "he knows it can never happen, it's just rappin", but overall, change is always good and the struggle, if you will, to achieve it, even continuously, should never end.
*5 out of 5*



7. "Crazzy"
Produced By Mr. Devine

Lyrically this appropriately titled song is on point, but the beat could've been a bit better.
*3.5 out of 5*

8. "Ten Hut"
Featuring Jadakiss
Produced By Vinny Idol and Supa Mario

This 2:37 banger felt more like 3:37. It's just so fast paced and pretty damn dope, D-Block with a military style.
*4 out of 5*

9. "How I Love You"
Featuring Styles P
Produced By Vinny Idol and Supa Mario

Yes, we have heard songs like this before, in which a woman serves as an extended metaphor for hip hop (Sheek's love for it that is). Very good song.
*4 out of 5*  

10. "3-5-4 (Tarrentino)"
Produced By Mr. Devine

Sheek flexes his storytelling muscles here, but I think this song was missing something. Good, but could've been much better.
*3 out of 5*

11. "Don't Mean Nuttin"
Featuring Styles P, Jadakiss and J-Hood
Produced By Mr. Devine

I'm not sure if this was J-Hood's debut, but he comes with a dope verse here alongside the Lox, plus we'll be seeing more of him during this project. Very good stuff here.
*4 out of 5*

12. "D-Block"
Featuring J-Hood
Produced By The Twinz

Speaking of J-Hood, he shows up again here (and on the next one) and drops a dope verse with Sheek. This joint also NICELY leads us into the high powered album closer.
*4 out of 5*

13. "Mighty D-Block (2 Guns Up)"
Featuring Jadakiss, Styles P and J-Hood
Produced By Green Lantern

This right here is one of many songs that define the D-Block sound in a nutshell. Green Lantern did an awesome job with this beat that allowed all four MCs to lyrically go in. Also, even if Jada's hook may garner a few chuckles, lol, it's not out of place and it fits the song so well. Note to aspiring artists: THIS is how you close an album.
*5 out of 5*




Well, my initial 3.5 star rating goes up to a respectable 4 stars for Sheek's debut. He stayed in his lane, so to speak, came with just about as much heat as you would expect over some very good production, and proved he could carry the weight of a solo album like Jada and Styles did before him. 





Release date: June 22, 2004 



1. "Intro"
Produced By DJ Green Lantern

Various Jada audio clips backed by a dope Green Lantern beat sends us on our way.

2. "What You So Mad At??"
Produced By Black Key

This thumpin, Black Key produced joint was a very good pick for the first song after the intro. Jada is not addressing anything or anyone specifically, but it's also a song that could be bumped at a party without sounding out of place.
*4 out of 5*
3. "Shine"
Featuring Snoop Dogg and DJ Quik
Produced By Jelly Roll

Jada, along with guests Snoop and Quik, indeed shine on this upbeat song, West Coast style all the way.
*4 out of 5*

4. "Bring You Down"
Produced By Neo.com

"Don't let this cold world bring you down", I hear that. Jada isn't going into anything deep on this song, but overall it's another very good one.
*4 out of 5*


5. "Time's Up"
Featuring Nate Dogg
Produced By Scott Storch

"That's right homie, you can't move me/I ain't goin nowhere, I'm in the hood like bootleg movies"

"Don't make me put your heart in ya lap/Fuck ridin the beat nigga, I parallel park on the track"

"And I don't know about you/But I know a man becomes a man from all the shit that he go through"


Amen on that last line, no doubt. Over a West Coast styled track courtesy of Scott Storch, Kiss goes in here, definitely letting the competition know that "the time is up and bring the heat cause playtime is over". And of course the late Nate Dogg brought the goods on the hook, something that wasn't new to him at all. 
*4 out of 5* 

6. "Why"
Featuring Anthony Hamilton
Produced By Havoc



This is possibly the most successful, most played, deepest song of Jada's career, and I do recall this joint (and the next song) being in heavy rotation on the radio back in 2004. Granted, he asks a lot of rhetorical questions, but I'm going to touch on a few of them (and you thought I was going to touch on EVERY question here didn't you, lol). (And believe it or not, this still receives radio play today.)



"Why did Bush knock down the (World Trade Center) towers?"
This was probably the most controversial question in the song. I won't spend too much time on it and I don't want to bring politics into this project, but I am one of many people who still believe the the terrorist attacks on 9/11/01 was an inside job. Jada's question confirms he believed that too.

"Why they stop lettin niggas get degrees in jail?"
Good question with an obvious answer. I guarantee you someone probably felt that people of any race, color, or creed, who had aspirations to go to college and couldn't afford to, would likely commit a crime just to go to jail and earn a degree. It may sound silly, but I bet that was the case.

"Why they come up wit the Witness Protection?"
Well, I'm not condoning snitching in any form, but when you look at this question more, the answer is obvious.
*5 out of 5*



7. "U Make Me Wanna"
Featuring Mariah Carey
Produced By Scott Storch



As mentioned, this Mariah Carey assisted song was in heavy rotation on the radio back in 2004. I wasn't too crazy about it then and today I still feel the same way. Some would say that this was an obvious, blatant attempt at more mainstream exposure. Be that as it may, it worked and it's likely one of the main reasons why this album sold the way it did (more on that later). I'm sure the ladies loved it, but most of the fellas I knew wanted no part of this. As a song though, yeah, my feelings are still the same and it's clearly the sole low point on this album.
*2 out of 5*

8. "Hot (Skit)"

9. "Hot Sauce To Go"
Featuring Pharrell
Produced By The Neptunes

Much like they did on "Knock Yourself Out", Jada and the Neptunes (with Pharrell on the hook) linked up for a pretty good collaboration. Now when I think about it, I prefer this over "Knock Yourself Out".
*4 out of 5*

10. "Real Hip Hop"
Featuring Sheek
Produced By Swizz Beatz

You know, whenever I bump this joint, I think about my cousin Andre. I was at his crib one time in the summer of 2004 and he had this song playing. I remember how crazy he went because of how dope it was to him, lol. Chances are he still bumps this today. At one point, "real hip hop" consisted of many things, but it usually always came down to dope beats and lyrics, and that's what we get here. While Swizz was on the hook, his lines were thankfully kept to a minimum while Jada and Sheek went bar for bar with such ease and confidence.
*5 out of 5*



11. "Shoot Outs"
Featuring Styles P
Produced By Elite

The niceness of the tag team that is Jada and Styles P is on full display here, which is something that'll continue throughout the rest of this project. They flowed nicely over the slow, yet gunshot filled, rock styled beat.
*4 out of 5*

12. "Still Feel Me"
Produced By The Alchemist

Although it's on the brief side, Jada gives us his introspective side. "True story, real life shit", he says. Indeed.
*4 out of 5*


13. "By Your Side"
Produced By Baby Grand

For starters, Baby Grand really used Creative Source's "I'd Find You Anywhere" effectively well for this apply titled, excellent song. Without trying to analyze it too much, respectively, I got the vibe that Jada's words were directed at various people throughout this song, which likely were his child, close friends, family, fans (possibly his gun too). Deep song here when you sit down and focus on the words (while bobbing your head at the same time).
*5 out of 5*




14. "Gettin' It In"
Featuring and produced by Kanye West

Newer fans would be shocked to see that before the controversial and questionable behavior, there was a time when Kanye was motivated, inspired and one of the most respected upcoming artists/producers in all of hip hop, circa 2004. This song, along with many others that year, is a testament to that and he almost steals the show from Jada here (that's how tight his verse was). Very good song and both men definitely "get it in" on this one.
*5 out of 5*



15. "Air It Out"
Produced By Neo.com

This was another very good song, but it could've been different based on the first verse. Jada's tells a story about what happens when a man's money isn't right and the affects from there. Had he stuck with this storyline, if you will, across the second and third verses, it would've been a much more effective song.
*4 out of 5*


16. "Welcome To D-Block"
Featuring Sheek, Styles P and Eminem
Produced By Eminem

Based on the song itself, D-Block could be any neighborhood in the world, so I understand what all involved were aiming for here. Plus, if you think Eminem was out of place alongside The Lox, you're mistaken. He not only drops a decent track, but he comes with a dope verse, which was the song's best in my view. GOOD stuff here.
*4 out of 5*

17. "Kiss Of Death"
Featuring Styles P
Produced By The Legendary Red Spyda

This was quite the dope title track, featuring Jada lyrically going in across all three verses.
*5 out of 5*




18. "I'm Goin' Back"
Featuring Nesha
Produced By The Legendary Red Spyda

Jada closes this album on an introspective note. He's going to change things up even by going back to familiar territory within his own life. Excellent song.
*4 out of 5*



If you thought this album was the album that "Kiss Tha Game Goodbye" should've been, you're quite right. Jada essentially took what worked on his debut, applied it here and created an excellent album. It's also his most successful album to date, certified Platinum in terms of sales, plus it also represented his peak in terms of mainstream acceptance. I also stand by my views that this is his best album overall (I know we haven't got to "Tha Last Kiss" yet, but work with me, lol). His sound was more refined (while still the same lyrically), the production was a bit better this time around and he brought out his introspective side more, which is always a plus. Great, 4.5 star job here.







Release date: November 8, 2005



1. "Intro"
Produced by Buckwild

"This ain't no rehearsal, you TV, I'm DVD/What I'm sayin this ain't no commercial"


I normally don't rate intros, but hot damn this Buckwild produced banger, while clocking in at 1:53, sets the right tone for Sheek's second album. And speaking of bangers......
*4 out of 5* 


2. "Street Music"
Produced by Mr. Devine

This joint right here is one thumpin, bass driven banger, yes indeed! It's definitely friendly to any system and headphone set that knocks, no question. Street music indeed!
*5 out of 5*



3. "On The Road Again"
Produced by Vinny Idol

Even though Sheek was going independent at this point, nothing was going to change as his career progressed, making that case excellently here. He goes from introspective to aggressive to reflective and back throughout the song, even addressing the 50 Cent/D-Block beef briefly ("50 gettin mad, came out wit Piggy Bank/That was probably the best song he had/We had to shit on him....."). Speaking of the beef, trust me this isn't the last time Sheek would touch on the subject on this album.
*4 out of 5*


4. "Pain"
Featuring Jadakiss
Produced by Rockwilder

A very good, appropriately titled song, D-Block style.
*4 out of 5*


5. "45 Minutes to Broadway"
Produced by Havoc

This one was hard enough for the fellas, but not too rugged for the ladies.
*3 out of 5*

6. "One Name"
Featuring Carl Thomas
Produced by Rockwilder

Now this was strictly for the ladies (moreso than the previous song), plus with a damn good Rockwilder beat and Carl Thomas on the hook, this worked like a charm, only for the grown and sexy.
*4 out of 5*

7. "Guess Who (Interlude)"
A funny skit to take us right into.....

8. "Maybe If I Sing"
Produced by The Infamous Red Spyda

Now this one requires a little backstory. In 2004, Ja-Rule, still reeling from the beef with 50 Cent, hooks up with Jadakiss and Fat Joe for the tight "New York", which was indeed the last time Ja Rule had any sort of presence on the radio and TV. So far so good right? Well, considering the beef, 50 Cent took exception to ANYONE doing anything with Ja-Rule (never mind how petty that attitude was, and I'm a 50 fan), so on his aforementioned "Piggybank" song, he threw shots at Fat Joe and Jada, which would then lead to a D-Block/G-Unit beef. Looking back, this had the potential to be something memorable, but it turned out to be pretty one-sided in my opinion. I also recall a Sheek Louch interview talking about this very subject, and he basically said "if 50 thinks it's going to be a walk in the park trying to battle the LOX, he's sadly mistaken", and he was right. G-Unit may have won in terms of sales, but line for line, there was no way then (and now) that 50, Lloyd Banks and Young Buck (Yayo LITERALLY had no chance here) were seeing Jada, Sheek and Styles P, no way. Outside of "Piggybank", I can't recall a single G-Unit track with them going at LOX, but there were quite a few songs where Styles and Jada essentially buried 50, most notably "Checkmate", "Problem Child", "Sorry Ms. Jackson" and "Shots Fired". And of course this song, which I will touch on now, lol!

"All you talk about is money and sales/What you need to talk about is all them niggas that you put in them jails"

I agree with the first line, because most of 50's subject matter focused on money and sales when "The Massacre" dropped in 2005. To this day, the second line is up for debate, and it wasn't just Sheek would made these same claims of 50 being a "snitch", but Fat Joe, Ja-Rule, Irv Gotti, Black Child, just to name a few, uttered similar statements.


Continuing on, the whole "maybe if I sing" line stems from Sheek wondering if he does this, would he get rich like 50, lol (admittedly, around this time most of the songs that were in heavy rotation did have some form of singing from 50, and that includes "Candy Shop" for example. And Sheek doesn't stop with 50, the other members feel his lyrical wrath here (Yayo was covered on the "Guess Who" skit, which shows he wasn't even worthy of a bar or two, lol). He said Lloyd Banks "had a half-assed flow" and Buck "needed some food cause he was bout as big as the "Passion Of Christ" dude, lol. Wow, lol. Overall, as a diss song, it's one of the more underrated selections (I also liked the ticking clock in the background, assuming that G-Unit's days were numbered and it was only a matter of time before the cracking of the empire, which eventually did happen, and that's another story), but at the same time still a confirmation that D-Block single handedly won this battle. Today all of them are on good terms.
*5 out of 5* 



9. "Devine"
Featuring J Hood
Produced by Mr. Devine

Over a Dr. Dre esque track, Sheek and J Hood sent this one out to all coasts to some pretty good results.
*4 out of 5*

10. "Kiss Your Ass Goodbye (Remix)"
Featuring Fabolous, Beanie Sigel and T.I.
Produced by The Infamous Red Spyda

My ONLY issue with this is the placement. To whoever suggested this be placed in the MIDDLE of the album instead the END, that was not a good decision. Either way, this is a damn good remix over a piano laced, bass savvy beat thanks to Red Spyda, and of course, all 4 men deliver equally damn good verses. Definitely an underrated remix/song.
*5 out of 5*



11. "Do Not Interrupt (Interlude)"

12. "Run Up"
Featuring Styles P
Produced by DJ Twinz

More D-Block dopeness here.
*4 out of 5*

13. "Get Up Stand Up"
Featuring Redman
Produced by Vinny Idol

D-Block and Gilla House connect for this appropriately titled song. Good stuff here.
*4 out of 5*

14. "Pressure"
Produced by Cocoa Chanelle

Excellent song right here. Over the course of the three verses, Sheek not only talks about what his actions would be like if faced with pressure, but what the actions are like for others facing pressure, namely a lady trying to impress her friends and a brother dealing with the stresses of a poorly paying job.
*4 out of 5*

15. "Movie Niggas"
Featuring Ghostface Killah
Produced by The Alchemist

When you look at the title, it would suggest something a little more rugged, but we didn't get that, respectively. Lyrically it's about what you would expect (alluding to the title), but Alchemist's beat didn't fit the theme in my view. Still a good song though.
*4 out of 5*

16. "Juice Bar (Interlude)"

17. "All Fed Up"
Produced by Vinny Idol and Supa Mario

This is another one for the ladies, but the fellas would appreciate it too. Sheek's cheating ways have caught up to him and now he's feeling the "fed up" pressure from wifey. Towards the end of the song, you got the vibe that he plans to do right, but will he, lol?
*4 out of 5*

18. "Get Money"
Featuring Jadakiss
Produced by Vinny Idol and Supa Mario


Yes, just looking at the title would suggest something we have all heard before, but this joint simply bangs. Sheek and Jada take an all too familiar subject and make it a D-Block banger.
*4 out of 5*

19. "Kiss Your Ass Goodbye"
Featuring Styles P
Produced by The Infamous Red Spyda 

Placement issues aside, this original version is just as dope as the remix.
*5 out of 5*




Wow, you can take everything I said about Jada's "Kiss Of Death" album towards the end and apply it to this album, verbatim too, with the exception of a few words here and there. This is without a doubt Sheek's best solo album, lyrically and production wise. While it didn't reflect in overall sales unfortunately, Sheek still grew as an artist and he delivered a pretty good. 4.5 star album. Now, the question is will Styles P's second effort be better than his first? We shall find out next! 
 



1. "G-Joint"
Featuring J Hood
Produced by Huu Banga

This "gangsta joint" was a very good opener, featuring aggressive bars from Styles and guest J Hood. The latter even throws a shot at G-Unit's Tony Yayo ("how a rat gon give you thoughts of a predicate felon").
*4 out of 5*

2. "Testify"
Featuring Talib Kweli
Produced by Hi-Tek

Styles and Talib Kweli come with testimonials in the hip hop way, over a dope Hi-Tek beat and a well worked sample courtesy of Billy Brooks' "Forty Days" (think of A Tribe Called Quest's "Luck Of Lucien"). You also get the vibe they were slightly building off the strength of Jada's "Why". VERY good song.
*5 out of 5*



3. "How We Live"
Additional Vocals by Jadakiss
Produced by Havoc

Although Styles is covering familiar territory on this one, it's still pretty good. He came with his usual dope lyrics and Havoc was sick with the ill flutes here.
*4 out of 5*


4. "Real Shit"
Featuring Gerald Levert
Produced by Scott Storch

If you thought the late Gerald Levert was out of place for this one or it was "too gangsta" for him, you were wrong. Not only did he come with a completely matching hook for this apply titled banger, but he made it work considering the things he usually sung about. Lyrically (and also due to Scott Storch's thumping track), this is some "real shit".
*5 out of 5*



5. "Who Want A Problem (Remix)"
Featuring Jadakiss, Sheek Louch and Swizz Beatz
Produced by Neo Da Matrix

Swizz only being on the hook was for the best, so this remix was that much better as a result, lol. Either way, while the hardcore nature of D-Block was still present here, the vibe was mostly one for the parties and it worked in that regard. Another one that's certainly hard enough for the fellas, but not too aggressive for the ladies.
*4 out of 5*

6. "Favorite Drug"
Featuring and produced by Rashad

Speaking of the ladies, this joint was truly intended for you. It's a smooth banger to be sure, with Styles giving every reason in the world as to why a good ass woman is his "favorite drug".
*4 out of 5*

7. "Can You Believe It"
Featuring Akon
Produced by Jonathan "Lil Jon" Smith

Remember a time when the sounds of Lil Jon was all over radio? Seems like a long time ago doesn't it? He certainly came through with a banger for Styles and Akon, who brought the same chemistry from "Locked Up" to this one.
*4 out of 5*

8. "Kick It Like That"
Featuring Jagged Edge
Produced by Neo Da Matrix

I don't know if it was a combination of a catchy beat with dope lyrics to match, but Styles certainly knew how to make a joint for the ladies (another one in this case) without sounding like he's overdoing it. Jagged Edge brought their usual goods on the hook.
*4 out of 5*

9. "I'm Black"
Featuring Marsha Ambrosius (from Floetry)
Produced by The Alchemist

Styles lyrics here, over a NICE Alchemist track, are so on point and thought provoking that I'd be listing the entire song verbatim if I was to quote any of the lines. At the end of the day, much like myself, Styles is Black and proud of it, nothing more or less. Excellent, appropriately titled song with an equally excellent hook courtesy of Marsha Ambrosius from Floetry. Best song on the album? I think so.
*5 out of 5*

 

10. "Fire & Pain"
Featuring Sizzla
Produced by Vinny Idol, Co-Produced by Supa Mario

Even with said title, in my view, Styles comes off as humble while at the same time being at complete ease while presenting his thoughts to the world.
*4 out of 5*

11. "Burn One Down"
Featuring Flipside
Produced by Vinny Idol and Supa Mario

"Burn one down/If you in the top 5 rappers, then you should be a concerned one now"

"Burn one down like a log in the fireplace/Whoever think they're the king well come along and try the ace"


Yes indeed, definitely gotta play your cards right before you think about testing the Ghost. Another apply titled, dope song here.
*4 out of 5* 

12. "Leave A Message"
Produced by Grease 

In an excellent closer to this album, Styles has clear, complete messages for his son, daughter, wife, mother, father, sister, friends, Jada & Sheek, the jail system, the poor, the kids, the wild ones, ladies, the rich, the hood, and the world. GREAT stuff here.
*5 out of 5*




Styles P came with an EXCELLENT, 4.5 star album from top to bottom, and honestly, I find myself liking this one a little more than his "Gangster And A Gentleman" debut. It's also remarkable that Styles, Jada and Sheek join a list of artists whose second albums were better than their first, confirming their growth as artists. On "Time Is Money", Styles came with his usual dope lyrics over TIGHT production, plus it was a more fast paced album than his debut (thanks to this album having no skits). While it wasn't as successful as his debut, it peaked at #19 on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums chart, #10 on the Top Rap Albums chart and #79 on the Billboard 200, respectively. Great job.





Release date: December 4, 2007



(The 12/4/07 date is fondly remembered by me because I copped Ghostface Killah's "Big Doe Rehab" and Scarface's "Made" on this day from Best Buy, their release date. In an INTERESTING fact, it's JUST occurring to me that this Styles P album was released on the same day. Wow, lol. I copped this Styles P album months later, but man, it's interesting to know that all three of these joints dropped on the same day.)




1. "Intro"
Produced by Dragan "Chach" Cacinovic
Styles sets things off by declaring his superiority to all. "I'm betta than all you muthafuckas, point, blank, period", he says.

2. "Blow Your Mind"
Featuring and produced by Swizz Beatz

If you thought this was another joint showing love and appreciation, if you will, for getting high, you're so correct, lol. This is not a sequel to "Good Times", but on its own it's a very good song, made for the smokers and the dancefloor. Having Swizz only confined to the hook again was a smart decision, lol.
*4 out of 5*

3. "Let's Go"
Featuring Ray J
Produced by Hi-Tek

Most heads wouldn't want any part of Ray J being on a song with the hardcore stylings of Styles P, but this Hi-Tek produced banger comes off so well, definitely a joint for the ladies and the dancefloor (it didn't make the radio though, which it certainly was aimed at).
*4 out of 5*

4. "Alone In The Street"
Produced by Vinny "King of Beatz" Idol

"I don't really care what I sell or what I sold/As long as I give my soul whenever my story told"


Not only has Styles essentially done this since day off, but the lines above describe this song well. 
*4 out of 5*

5. "In It To Win It"
Featuring Bully
Produced by Mr. Devine and Cafe Society

Oh man, this apply titled banger right here is one of my favorite songs on this album. Lyrically it may be about what you expect, but it's still so damn dope. Guest Bully, whose name was very appropriate due to the way he "uses force" on the tracks, seemingly channeling his inner Beanie Sigel, dropped a dope verse himself.

*5 out of 5*



6. "All I Know Is Pain"
Featuring and produced by The Alchemist

I could hear the pain in Styles' voice throughout this entire song, and towards the end, he does sound drained (it's not truly noticeable, but if you listen closely you can tell). When all you know, get, give and live is pain, you develop a few stories to tell.
*4 out of 5*

7. "Got My Eyes On You"
Featuring and produced by Akon

The pretty good chemistry between Styles and Akon continues with this banger. Don't think that a man like Styles is blind to what's happening around him, because at the end of the day, just like this song says, "he got his eyes on you". Good stuff here.
*5 out of 5*



8. "Green Piece Of Paper"
Produced by The Alchemist

This was not just another song about money. Styles gives a clever account about the things himself and others continue to do in the name of the almighty dollar, no matter what the circumstances are.
*4 out of 5*

9. "Holiday"
Featuring Max B
Produced by The Evil Genius DJ Green Lantern

"Knee deep in the game/Due time you'll see the sunshine if you sleep in the rain/I ain't tryin to weather the storm/I get over the clouds and I ain't talkin bout flying a plane"


Another dope song here. You get the sense that Styles was just itching to hit that "double time" flow, but he doesn't quite take it there. It doesn't hurt the song at all, and it's much better than the song of the same title that was on the Ruff Ryders' "Ryde Or Die Vol. 2" compilation.
*4 out of 5* 
 
10. "Look At Her"
Produced by Poobs

Styles' streak of nice joints for the ladies continues with this one. Again, he doesn't come off as forced or simply overdoing things to cater to the ladies. He's just being himself overall.
*4 out of 5*

11. "Da 80's"
Produced by Kid Capri

Styles, by his own admission, was cocky on this one, lol. From a 2006-2007 perspective, he takes it back to the 80s, no hook, just two good verses, respectively.

12. "Interlude 1" 
Comedian Tony Roberts come through with some, uh, lines, lol.

13. "Shoot Niggas"
Featuring Raw Buck
Produced by Dame Grease

This apply titled joint is nothing but (lyrical) gunplay on full display, nothing more or less. Raw Buck sounded like a more hyped version of Yung Wun didn't he, lol?
*4 out of 5*

14. "Super Gangster"
Produced by Vinny "King Of Beatz" Idol

"Up in the hood, it's a lot of gangs and gangsters/But I'm a super gangster/I super grind, I'm tryin to get super paper/Told you I'm a super gangster"


That hook above tells you all you need to know about this very good, fast paced song.
*4 out of 5* 
 
15. "Star Of The State"
Featuring Ghostface Killah
Produced by Vinny "King Of Beatz" Idol

We get the always dope connection between Wu-Tang and D-Block, yes indeed. Over a nice Vinny Idol beat, Styles and Ghostface lyrically go in on this one, definitely one of the top 3 best songs on this album.
*5 out of 5*



16. "U Ain't Ready 4 Me"
Featuring Beanie Sigel
Produced by Dame Grease

Dame Grease's horns and drums were off the hook for this banger, which also appeared on Sigel's "The Solution" album.
*5 out of 5*



17. "Interlude 2"
Tony Roberts stops by again. This and the first interlude were pointless additions to the album, real talk. Let's move on.

18. "Gangster, Gangster"
Featuring Jadakiss and Sheek Louch
Produced by Pete Rock

Jada and Sheek FINALLY show up as we come towards the closing of the album, lol. Another apply titled song, D-Block gangsters on the set.
*4 out of 5*

19. "Cause I'm Black"
Featuring Black Thought
Produced by Jesus "Poobs" Fernandez 

All 3:06 of this banger, an unofficial sequel to "I'm Black", is incredible. Styles and the always on point Black Thought come through with informative verses (with a touch of frustration/aggression) on a completely appropriately titled song. I like how they talked about current happenings at the time (Sean Bell, Jena 6) as well as historical happenings related to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X, the hosing of our people (Styles was RIGHT on when he said "..... Imus should've never been fired, just fired on/Not wit a gun, hit him up wit a water hose/Got some nerve to call a Black man's daughter ho") and more. GREAT closing song.
*5 out of 5*




I went into this album thinking there was a chance that my rating for it would change. Lo and behold, that's what going to happen, lol! Over the years, my rating went from a 4.5 stars to a 4, and now back again to a 4.5, yes indeed. Styles P's 3rd album has aged well and he sort of picked up right where "Time Is Money" left off, while revisiting some of the aspects that made his "Gangster And A Gentleman" debut so good.

 




Release date: March 18, 2008



1. "Lottery (Skit)"
Standard intro. Sheek is asked what he would do if he hit the lottery (with an estimated jackpot of $300 million). In short, he would take care of all those close to him. 

2. "Think We Got A Problem"
Featuring Bun B and The Game
Produced by The Knocks

East meets West meets the South for this banger. I've never been a fan of the "chopped & screwed" sound, but for this hook, it worked. Very good start.
*5 out of 5*



3. "Keep Pushin"
Featuring Mike Smith
Produced by Marcus D'Tray

Apply titled songs like this were sort of commonplace in hip hop at this point. Sheek says nothing we haven't heard before, but it's still a decent song.
*3 out of 5*

4. "Good Love"
Produced by Red Spyda



Over a NICELY used Betty Wright sample courtesy of her classic, "Tonight Is The Night", Sheek throws one out for the ladies and it's pretty good. He was feeling it on this beat too.
*4 out of 5*
 



5. "D-Block/Dipset"
Featuring Jadakiss, Styles P, Jim Jones and Hell Rell
Produced by Mr. Devine

The first time pairing between D-Block and Dipset was a good one. Jim Jones brought his usual, which isn't saying too much, but Hell Rell almost steals the show here. It probably would've made for a better song if it was Sheek, Jada, Styles, Cam'ron, and Hell Rell, that's just my opinion though.
*4 out of 5*

6. "We At War"
Produced by StreetRunner

Another very good song here, which finds Sheek flexing his political muscles a bit. I like the use of Capleton's "Danger Zone" for the hook in a nice touch.
*4 out of 5*

7. "Scrap To This"
Produced by Vinny Idol

This is not great, this is not bad, it's RIGHT there in the middle, considering it's nothing we haven't heard before. Let's continue on.
*3 out of 5*

8. "Don't Be Them"
Produced by Soul-G and Doc Little

Simple yet very effective. Sheek is advising you to be yourself at the end of the day, even going so far as to say "if he had a choice to tell niggas who to be, it wouldn't be him". In addition, he says don't be like his fellow rap artists (NOT a diss by any means), NBA players, even politicians. In a funny yet very understandable moment, he says "don't be (George W.) Bush, please not him", lol. GOOD stuff here.
*4 out of 5*

9. "Gettin' Stronger"
Featuring Jadakiss and Styles P
Produced by Soul-G, Co-Produced by Lamonte and Butch

Yes indeed, The Lox were certainly strong at this point in the game, and you can definitely say hip hop overall was strong too (for better and worse even looking back). 
*4 out of 5*

10. "That's A Soldier"
Produced by Vinny Idol

I liked this one. Sheek is not only saying that the "soldier" is the man or woman in uniform, this could also be you normal, take each day one day a time individual, even your next door neighbor. Good perspective here.
*4 out of 5*

11. "What What"
Featuring Bully
Produced by Dame Grease

Now I gotta ask, where was Noreaga for this joint with its "call & response" hook, lol? Either way, Sheek came with two decent verses, however, Bully owned this one.
*4 out of 5*

12. "We Comin"
Featuring Unk
Produced by DJ Montay

I was never an Unk fan, so this song did nothing for me. It was STRAIGHT out of the Southern hip hop playbook that was dominating the hip hop scene in 2008 (and still is as of this posting in many ways). It's not an actively bad song, but I can/could certainly do without it.
*2 out of 5*

13. "Crowd (Skit)"

14. "We Spray Crowds"
Produced by Mr. Devine

Again, not a bad song, but it's nothing we haven't heard before. More repetitive than anything else.
*3 out of 5*

15. "Rubber Grip"
Featuring Styles P and Fat Joe
Produced by J. Cardim

Even with the appearances of Styles and Fat Joe, this was another joint straight out of the Southern hip hop playbook, completely down to the beat and the "screwed" hook. It's ok, nothing more or less.
*3 out of 5*

16. "2 Turntables & A Mic"
Produced by Red Spyda

This was less about a throwback vibe, respectively, but moreso "hood music", straight (D-Block) bars over a dope beat.
*4 out of 5*

17. "Mic Check"
Produced by Vinny Idol

Sheek was longing for the good ol' days taking it back to the early beginnings of hip hop, while at the same time taking the genre itself to task for its materialistic, overly motivated stance towards money, etc (and this was circa 2008, so you can only imagine how things are today). He also admits that "he could sell more by putting Usher on the hook" of one of his songs, but instead he'll just do him and you gotta respect that.
*4 out of 5*

18. "Go Hoodlums"
Produced by Vinny Idol

This album closes in such an anti-climatic fashion, and this song, again, is nothing we haven't heard before.
*3 out of 5*



While this was a very good third album overall, it's a step down from "After Taxes", and even his debut now when I think about it. It's good in certain spots, but the quality takes a slight downtown heading towards the end of the album, oddly enough. Even with one song clocking it at a "5 out of 5" and a decent number of "4 out of 5" ones, I'm honestly going to go with a 3.5 star rating for "Silverback Gorilla".
 



Release date: April 7, 2009



1. "Pain & Torture"
Produced by Buckwild

"Lacin' em well, it was destined for Jason to sell/I can make you a reservation to hell"

"Me versus any rapper is slaughter, somethin' like a poet and a author/The only difference is that I make slick talk wit pain & torture"


Jada was taking it back with the "Kiss Tha Game Goodbye" flow on this fast paced opener.
*4 out of 5*

2. "Can't Stop Me"
Featuring Ayanna Irish
Produced by Neo Da Matrix

Decent song here, nothing we haven't heard before, even down to the sung hook. 
*4 out of 5*

3. "Who's Real"
Featuring Swizz Beatz and OJ Da Juiceman
Produced by Snagz, Co-Produced by Swizz Beatz

This appropriately titled song would mark the last time, as we speak, that Jada had any presence on the radio (and TV for that matter) and honestly, I believe the sole reason this garnered any type of radio play was because of OJ Da Juiceman's appearance, as he was one of the "hot" artists at the time, and I use the term "hot" very loosely here, because his brief verse adds NOTHING to this song. OJ verse aside, it's still relatively good.
*3.5 out of 5*

4. "Grind Hard"
Featuring Mary J. Blige
Produced by The Inkredibles

I get what Jada and Ms. Blige was going for here, but again, it's nothing we haven't heard before, and when I think back to 2009, the entire sound of a song like this was so commonplace at the time.
*3 out of 5*

5. "Something Else"
Featuring Young Jeezy
Produced by Fiend

Fiend, formerly of No Limit Records and who also had a good relationship with the Ruff Ryders crew, provides Jada was some Southern styled flava on this one, even though I could've done without Young Jeezy's verse.
*3.5 out of 5*

6. "One More Step"
Featuring Styles P
Produced by Sean C & LV

The dope back and forth, tag team style of Jada and Styles again on full display. I also liked how Sean C & LV utilized Michael Jackson's "We're Almost There" and delivered probably the most creative beat on this album.
*4 out of 5*

7. "Stress Ya"
Featuring Pharrell
Produced by The Neptunes

Fairly decent song, clearly for the radio spins and the dancefloors.
*3 out of 5*

8. "What If"
Featuring Nas
Produced by ChopHouse

This is an excellent song right here, clearly the best song on the album if you ask me. Jada and Nas ask a series of thought provoking "what if" questions, so much so that I'd be quoting the entire song if I placed any of the lyrics here.
*5 out of 5*




9. "Things I've Been Through"
Produced by Mr. Devine

Much props to Mr. Devine and the way he sampled Luther Vandross' "Promise Me", which brings an introspective light to this song, another excellent one. Jada mostly talks about his beginnings with Bad Boy, signing with Ruff Ryders/Interscope and their then current status with Roc-A-Fella Records.
*5 out of 5*



10. "I Tried"
Featuring Avery Storm
Produced by Baby Grand

"Listen, I done played with the snakes in the grass/Paid for my mistakes I made in the past"


The above line from the first verse accurately describes this song in a nutshell. Through it all, just know that all Jada has done was try, no doubt.
*4 out of 5* 

11. "Rockin' With The Best"
Produced by The Neptunes

This is a smooth joint for the ladies, D-Block style.
*4 out of 5*

12. "Smoking Gun"
Featuring Jazmine Sullivan
Produced by Mr. Porter

This one you really have to sit down and take your time with it as you listen. Backed by a soulful hook courtesy of Ms. Jazmine Sullivan, Jada is not necessarily talking strictly about gunplay, and not only is he looking out for his fellow woman, he's coming from the perspective of protection (hence the term "smoking gun"). Great song here and again it's one you have to take your time with.
*5 out of 5*



13. "Cartel Gathering"
Featuring Ghostface Killah and Raekwon
Produced by Swiff D and Eddie F

Of all the "Wu-Block" collaborations, this one would probably be at the top of my list in terms of my favorite. In addition to this be so damn dope, nothing more needs to be said other than the fact that it's a "cartel gathering", lol!
*5 out of 5*
 



14. "Come And Get Me"
Featuring Sheek Louch and S.I.
Produced by Neenyo

This Sheek Louch and S.I. assisted song is about as aggressive as you would expect, so much so that even the somewhat sung hook couldn't disrupt the flow.
*4 out of 5*

15. "By My Side"
Featuring Ne-Yo
Produced by Eric Hudson

   
To say that this joint was STRICTLY for the ladies, from beginning to end complete with the Ne-Yo feature, would be a total understatement. As it stands, it's a very good song for what it is.
*4 out of 5*

*16. "Letter To B.I.G."
Featuring Faith Evans
Produced by Needlz

Apparently whoever was mixing and mastering this album thought that ending it with the previous song probably would've been one of the most anti-climatic closings ever, so this is the first of three bonus tracks. Honestly, this excellent, heart felt tribute to the late, great Notorious BIG should've been part of the actual album and it should've closed it in my opinion. 
*5 out of 5*


*17. "Something Else (Remix)"
Featuring Young Jeezy, Snyp Life, Bully, AP, Boo Rossini and Blood Raw
Produced by Fiend

This was a packed, East meets South remix, even with a repeat of Jeezy's verse from the original.
*4 out of 5*

*18. "Death Wish"
Featuring Lil Wayne
Produced by The Alchemist   

Pretty good, apply titled way to close this album, even as the 3rd bonus track. I'm not a fan of Lil Wayne, but damn this cat almost stole the show with his verse (I won't front, it was tight).
*4 out of 5*



Jada's third album was another excellent one in his discography. While it received less attention than his first two albums, it still was one of the best albums of 2009. It debuted at #3 on the Billboard 200, moving 134,520 units in its first week, and as of June 23, 2010, it has moved a respectable 361,747 units (a step down from previous years to be sure). Although Jada has released several mixtapes since then, no additional progress or word has been delivered about the status of his fourth album, "Top 5 Dead Or Alive" as of this posting. Will we still get that album? At this point, we shall see. Overall, "The Last Kiss" is an excellent, 4 star album.




Release date: December 14, 2010 (I initially pre-ordered this from Best Buy, along with Ghostface Killah's "Apollo Kids".)




1. "Rhyme Animal (Intro)"
Produced by Big H
Under the nickname of "Donnie G", Sheek is back with album number four.

2. "Get It Poppin"
Produced by The Futuristiks and Team Ready

Although everything, and I do mean everything, about this song is nothing we haven't heard before. Sheek's energy makes this one work more than anything else, respectively.
*4 out of 5*

3. "Club Jam Packed"
Featuring DJ Webstar
Produced by Webstar

My score is solely for the energy Sheek brings to this otherwise blatant attempt at radioplay. I mean yes, it would not be out of place in a club, but a song like this just leaves questioning its purpose, and it certainly wouldn't have been out of place on the radio then and now.
*3 out of 5*

4. "Out Of The Ghetto"
Featuring Kobe Honeycutt
Produced by Don Cannon

This song was decent, however, I can't help but think that this was a missed opportunity (with all due respect, Don Cannon could've came with a much better beat for Sheek), plus this topic of "making it out of the ghetto" has been done before and better quite frankly.
*3 out of 5*

5. "Make Some Noise"
Featuring Fabolous
Produced by Pree-Recorded and Red Spyda

Sheek, I got mad love for you homie, but Fab had the best verse on this one. Good song.
*4 out of 5*

6. "Blood & Tears"
Featuring Casely
Produced by Nemis

I get what Sheek was going for here (all about the come up along with the struggles involved), but hot damn it comes back to the feeling of this being nothing we haven't heard before (it certainly could've been on the "Silverback Gorilla" album now when I think about it). Casely on the hook really came off like a lighter version of Ne-Yo, which didn't help this song overall. 
*3 out of 5*

7. "Nite Falls"
Produced by Statik Selektah

Man, much like song #4, I feel this was another missed opportunity. An energetic Sheek over a dope Statik Selektah production could've been a hell of a moment, but instead this is what we got. It's decent, but that's where it ends.
*3 out of 5*

8. "Party After 2"
Featuring Jeremih
Produced by Darius "Phonix" Barnes

To say that this was aimed strictly for the ladies, clubs and radio would be a total understatement. This song is ok, but it really sounded like Sheek was trying a little too hard to appeal to a wider audience.
*3 out of 5*

9. "Ol' Skool"
Featuring Bun B
Additional Vocals by Jase
Produced by J. Cardim

Again, this song is not bad at all (it's fairly decent), but it's ANOTHER missed opportunity in my view. A Sheek/Bun B collabo should've been something tight as hell (with a completely different vibe), but this one comes off as just another song to these ears.
*3 out of 5*

10. "Picture Phone Foreplay"
Featuring Kevin "KC" Cossum
Produced by Bangladesh 

Oh God, and I do remember there was a time when picture phones (and things related) were one of the hot things at the moment, much like how selfies are today. I'm sorry Sheek, but this song is as unacceptable as they come, especially for someone with your lyrical prowess. Definitely the worst song on this album.
*1 out of 5*

11. "Dinner Guest"
Featuring Jadakiss, Styles P and Bully
Additional Vocals by Malik Thelusma and Enjelle St. Clair
Produced by Red Spyda 

Lyrically this song was on point, however, the beat was not that good and the reggae vibe during the hook did this one no favors. With that said, the song loses a few points for it being a RARE misfire when all members of the LOX are on the same track.
*3 out of 5*

12. "Ready4War"
Produced by Y-Not

The title alone would suggest a hardcore, aggressive touch, however, we kinda get the opposite here.
*3 out of 5*

*13. "Clip Up (Reloaded)"
Featuring Jadakiss and Styles P
Produced by Y-Not and Kool Aid

Well it didn't matter if it was this song, a bonus track if you can believe that, or the one before it, this album would've still closed on such an anti-climatic note that it was unavoidable. Lyrically this is not bad, but the beat just brings this down and that should not happen when you have MCs like Jada, Styles and Sheek on the same track.
*3 out of 5*



Man, this album has NOT aged well at all and it almost sounded worse than it did when I first played it in 2010, and that's sad to say when talking about something D-Block related (it also goes without saying that the album cover is one of the worst in hip hop history). The story of this album is most, if not all, of everything on here has been done before (and better in some cases). Sheek lyrically is not saying anything new, plus the production left a lot to be desired and it was a total step down from his previous three albums. Add in completely missed opportunities and blatant attempts at commercial acceptance, this is about as average as they come, settling in at a 3 star rating (slightly up from my previous 2.5 star rating, and even then this may be generous). As of this posting, Sheek hasn't released a 5th solo album and I don't think he has plans to release another one any time soon if the response (or lack thereof) to this album was any indication.





Release date: October 4, 2011 (I bought this on the day of its release from Best Buy.)




1. "How I Fly"
Featuring Avery Storm
Produced by Warren G

For the first time pairing of Styles P and Warren G, this was decent. It does start the album on a "high note" to be sure, but "Good Times" this wasn't.
*3 out of 5*

2. "We Don't Play"
Featuring Lloyd Banks
Produced by Supa Stylez

This Supa Stylez produced, apply titled banger not only further confirmed that the D-Block/G-Unit beef was dead, but Styles and Banks display some very good chemistry on all 3:36 of this.
*4 out of 5*

3. "I'm A G"
Featuring Rell
Produced by Supa Stylez

With or without this song, Styles will always be a "G", no question about that. Granted, this may be nothing we haven't heard before, but it's still very good.
*4 out of 5*

4. "Ryde On Da Regular"
Produced by AraabMuzik

An appropriately titled, fast paced song right here.
*4 out of 5*

5. "Keep The Faith"
Featuring Aja
Produced by J. Music House

"You can see it, you just can't vision it/Society judge a man for the way that he live in it"


Styles isn't coming with a biblical perspective here, however, it's another one of those songs to encourage the listeners, and it does that very well. The Aja led hook says it all:

"Even though you feel like, cryin'
Just keep on smilin'
Believin' that, there is gonna be
Somethin' better past the pain
And even though it hurts, like hell
You, just keep on givin'
Don't stop moving and
It's all worth it in the end, you just keep the faith" 

*5 out of 5*

 


6. "Children"
Featuring Pharoahe Monch
Produced by Pete Rock

An excellent (and fast paced song) talking about the negative effects on the children. Keep in mind, this was 2011 and these same effects are still having its way on the youth of the day (and probably worse). Styles covers effects such as crime, gaming, the "electronic factor", materialistic possessions, etc. Again, this is another song where the hook (this time led by Pharoahe Monch) tells the story:

"Some days I might thank, God I don't have no (children)
To struggle this hard and it's a hassle (children)
Gotta teach 'em how to survive and win (children)
The whole future of the world depends on (children)
So I talk wise and speak clearly (children)
But still sometimes they don't hear me (children)
But when I open my heart I catch feelings (children)
Cause the kids need hope, they need healing (children)
THE CHILDREN"

*5 out of 5*

  


7. "Street Shit"
Featuring Sheek Louch
Produced by Black Saun

This joint, with a slight throwback vibe, is about what you would expect in D-Block form. Good, but nothing more nonetheless.
*3 out of 5*

8. "Feelings Gone"
Produced by Statik Selektah

You get the impression throughout this song that Styles literally feels nothing in his life. I guess the struggle or challenge here is reclaiming those feelings.
*4 out of 5*

9. "Harsh"
Featuring Busta Rhymes and Rick Ross
Produced by Phonix Beats

I had no problem with this. Styles and Busta brought some good verses, and I'm not a Rick Ross fan so his verse did nothing for me. Speaking of Ross, I'll be coming back to him at the end of this review.
*4 out of 5*

10. "It's OK"
Featuring Jadakiss
Produced by Phonix Beats

The continued dope, tag team style of Jada and Styles is on full display once again.
*4 out of 5*

11. "Don't Turn Away"
Featuring Pharrell
Produced by Reefa

Another Styles P joint for the ladies.
*3 out of 5* 

12. "Uhh-Ohh"
Featuring Sheek Louch
Produced by Ty Fyffe

While Sheek was only on the hook, a (dope) verse from him was missing on this one, but it doesn't ruin the aggressive effect of this song (much better than "Street Shit" too).
*4 out of 5*


The album doesn't end here, and for those who copped the Best Buy Exclusive such as myself, the album closes with three bonus tracks.


*13. #1 Homie"
Produced by Black Key

Well, it never takes SP long to go in on a track and profess his superiority to all (on the mic) at the same time. Dope stuff here.
*4 out of 5*

*14. "Where The Angels Sleep"
Produced by Ceasar & Pstarr

Another very good song, focusing on something that has been covered before in hip hop: the desire to go to heaven.
*4 out of 5*

*15. "Love Barbara"
Produced by Warren G

Lol, don't let the title fool you. This is not another song for the ladies. Simply put, "Barbara" is the metaphor for "good weed" in Styles' case. A good song that I'm sure the smokers would love, no doubt.
*4 out of 5*



Going into this part of the review, this was actually my first time listening to this album since I bought it on its release date, so a lot of time has elapsed in between. I remember thinking it was a decent album at the time, but revisiting it now, it's a LOT better than what I initially gave it credit for. I feel it's Styles' most personal album to date and possibly his most underrated album after "Super Gangster, Extraordinary Gentleman". 4 stars for this album, up from my previous 3.5 star rating. And lastly, remember back in 2010 when Rick Ross' "B.M.F. (Blowin Money Fast)" was one of the, uh, hottest songs on the radio? You would never know it but Styles was the fearured guest on that song, which did more to further Ross' career and it literally did nothing for Styles. Think about that for a moment.



The remainder of this project will consist of my reviews, verbatim, for the next three Styles P albums. Recent thoughts will be in bold.




Release date: November 19, 2012

(Original review was posted on the day after its release.)




One third of Yonkers, NY trio The Lox, Styles P returns with his 5th studio album, "The World's Most Hardest MC Project". After three straight excellent albums (A Gangster & A Gentleman, Time Is Money, and Super Gangster, Extraordinary Gentleman), one so so album (Master of Ceremonies) (The "Master Of Ceremonies" album was not "so so", as detailed in the previous review.), countless guest appearances, and mixtapes, will we get something new to the table or more of the same? Let's take a look.

The album starts off in a very hard way, with the AraabMUZIK produced banger "Araab Styles", continuing into the apply titled "I Know" (produced by Jahlil Beats), and "Like That", three straight very good songs to start this album. Fellow Lox member, Sheek Louch, is the first guest to appear, in which he and Styles bring the lyrical goods on "Empire State High". We get more bangers here, and in what is arguably the album's best track, the Vinny Idol produced "Pop Out" is true fire, and not only does Styles P sound so inspired over this tight beat, but Mr. Idol greatly samples the classic ESPN Sunday Night Football theme. The only flaw of that song is that it's TOO short, clocking in at 2:15. Another apply titled song, "Hoody Season" is tight as well, produced by an apparent newcomer in Black Saun, and it's another track that's a little too short. (Black Saun wasn't a newcomer at this point, having produced "Street Shit" on the "Master Of Ceremonies" album.) "Monopolizing" (featuring Bucky & Large Amount, also produced by Vinny Idol) is not your standard "paper chasin" song, but rather it's "strategic fund stackin" based on how they flow on this one. We go from the paper chase to the gritty gangsta ish with the Snyp & A.P. assisted "Shooter" over a nice Supastylez beat. The album closes with "Murda Mommy", a somewhat cautionary tale about getting involved with the aggressive/gangsta female, pretty dope too (lyrically and production wise).

Wow, overall this was a pleasant surprise. It's a fast paced album, and although Styles certainly doesn't break new ground, it's still a tight album, as he gives you what you should be familiar with by now (musically) and nothing more, respectively. Initially, although I'm a long time Styles P/Lox, I was on the fence about checking this out, mainly because of how SUDDEN it was announced, and the title, cover, and tracklist have all the makings of a mixtape, but I can honestly say I was wrong, as this is simply TOO GOOD to be any form of a mixtape. The ONLY two complaints I have about the album are Jadakiss was nowhere to be found (hopefully he's working on "Top 5 Dead or Alive", lol) and some of the songs are too short, in that as soon as you find yourself getting into them, it's over. (As we speak, there has been literally no mention of Jada's plans for album number four.) Is this album on the level of his first three? No way. Is it better than "Master of Ceremonies", which had more songs and guests, yes it is. (I would say it runs neck and neck with "MOC".) This is recommended, especially for long time fans of Styles P, and it comes with a solid 4 star rating.





Release date: April 16, 2013

 (Original review was posted the day after its release.)

Coming almost five months after the release of his very good, yet very slept on 5th solo album, "The World's Hardest MC Project", one third of The Lox, Styles P, returns with his 6th solo album, "Float", produced exclusively by the underrated Scram Jones.



1. "Float (Intro)"
A brief, but dope intro to the album and it does set the proper tone (Yes indeed).

2. "Manson Murder"
Featuring Noreaga

I wouldn't have guessed Nore would show up on this album, a day after I reviewed his latest album no less, lol.  It's all good though. (Nore's "Student Of The Game" album will not be revisited on this blog in case you were wondering, lol.) Backed by clips of infamous murderer Charles Manson, SP and Nore come hard on this one. Nore sounds better one this one song than he did on his own latest album. (I got love for Nore, but this was damn true, lol.)
*3.5 out of 5* (I'm taking this one up a bit to a "4 out of 5" rating.)

3. "Bodies In The Basement"

Well, just by looking at that title, you know what this song is about, and again, SP brings it completely.
*3.5 out of 5* ("4 out of 5" is more like it for this one. SP goes in as usual.)

 
4. "Hater Love"
 Featuring Sheek Louch

Wow, this joint goes SO hard, lyrics and production wise. SP and Sheek pull no punches, and they're right, even the haters would love this one.
*4.5 out of 5* (Yep, my thoughts on this banger remain the same. The only thing that changes is the rating, which is now a clear cut "5 out of 5".)


 
5. "Take It Back"

Man, five songs in and this is a great album. SP takes it back with the old school hook and a thumping breakbeat. Nice all around.
*4 out of 5* (I may be overrating this one, but I really like it more on this revisit. I'm taking this one up also to a "5 out of 5".



6. Haze vs. Sour (Skit)

7. "I Need Weed"
 
I'm not a smoker by any means, but I like this one, and I'm sure the smokers will too.
*3.5 out of 5*
 
8. "Red Eye"
Featuring Jadakiss

Another dope collabo, this time with Kiss. I'll tell you one thing, to this day when The Lox get together in any form, the motivation and energy is still there, and this one is no different, much like "Hater Love".
*4 out of 5*

9. "Reckless"
Featuring Raekwon

SP and Rae come reckless in a hip hop form, and what results is a tight song.
*4 out of 5*

10. "Shoot You Down"

Another banger here, in an album full of them. (Scram Jones' use of Loretta Holloway's "Casanova"  for the sampled hook was so ill here.)
*4 out of 5*

11. "Open Up"
Featuring Bullpen

Bullpen apparently is a new group affiliated with D-Block. Either way, they all hold their own alongside SP. (As of this posting, I haven't heard anything additional from Bullpen, plus this song came off like a showcase for them more than anything else.)
*3.5 out of 5*

12. "Screw Y'all"
 Featuring Scram Jones

This apply titled closer is so good, and does a fine job of closing the album on a tight note.
*4 out of 5*


HOT DAMN, this album is incredible and it's possibly the best album right now, and it deserves more attention that it's receiving. (True words right here.) Styles P is certainly getting better each time he drops an album nowadays, and Scram Jones deserves more recognition after his production on this album. 4.5 stars all around and a STRONG recommendation.





Release date: April 29, 2014

(Original review was posted on May 2, 2014.) 

 
THE OPENER
"Never Safe"
 This Joe Milly produced banger gets the album started off on the right note. It's about what you would expect from Styles P, and it's definitely dope. (I love the thumping bassline on this one.)


When SP is by himself, what you hear is what you get. "Other Side" (featuring Shae Lawrence, produced by Maxpayne Shawty) is such an uplifting song. Any time we get a song telling us to stand strong through it all, it's usually a winner in my book, and in SP's case, this is the album's best song. The apply titled "Deeper Self" (produced by Buda Da Future & Grandz Muzik) is also very good with its introspective vibes. (Not necessarily a song with introspective vibes, but for what it is, it's pretty good.) As usual on a Lox release, the guests largely come through. The Sheek Louch assisted "Creep City" (produced by Black Saun) is the most aggressive song on the album, and at this point Sheek does a good job bringing out that side of SP, we get a Y.O./Harlem connection with the underrated Vado on "World Tour" (produced by Joe Milly and Mr. Devine) and it's nice, especially with it's 2014 update on A Tribe Called Quest's classic "Award Tour" (Not only was this joint still dope, but I haven't heard from Vado in quite some time. I'm sure he's still on the grind, even on an independent/underground mode.), "Don't Be Scared" (featuring The Bull Pen, produced by Vinny Idol) is hard as you would expect (So much for me saying that it was the last we heard of/from Bull Pen on the "Float" album, lol.), another apply titled song in "Never Trust" (produced by Black Saun) is good. It is here where the mostly solid material on this album sadly ends.

Oh man, "Sour" (featuring Jadakiss and Rocko, produced by Knucklehead) is a song I did not care for at all. It's a little too Southern styled, and you can apply that to all three verses and the beat, and it sounds like something you would hear on the radio today, for all the wrong reasons and it comes off as being out of place on this album. (While my thoughts still remain the same, it's not as bad as it was when I first heard it, but make no mistake about it, I still don't care for it.) "For The Best" (produced by Harry Fraud) is good lyrically, but would've been much more effective with a better beat, and while the smokers should like "Smoke All Day" (featuring Dyce Payne, produced by Daysel), it's nothing we haven't heard before.



Coming off of 2013's awesome "Float", this album, while solid in spots, is a step down, and for some reason, it gave me a mixtape vibe throughout. (While a step down from his previous albums, listening to it again I didn't receive a "mixtape vibe".) Of course it doesn't break new ground lyrically (SP can still bring it), but I feel what weighs this album down a bit is the production. Granted, it's commendable that he gives a good number of new cats some shine, but Scram Jones', just to name one producer, presence was missed on this one, and had he provided some tracks, things would've been a little different. Overall, I'll go with a 3.5 star rating, with a slight recommendation.



 And with that, this LOX project is complete and while time consuming, it was pleasure putting this together. I think it's safe to say that this trio is the greatest trio in hip hop history, especially from a lyrical standpoint. Not too many MCs can see Jadakiss, Styles P and Sheek Louch on the mic, and with almost 20 years in the game, I'm sure (and hopeful) there's more where this came from. The ONLY thing I have an issue with is the fact that after "We Are The Streets", we never got that official, long awaited third album from them, and to this day, I'm not sure what the reasoning is/was, outside of it possibly being timing and label issues, but that's another story. Jada, Sheek and Styles, if you're reading this, THANK YOU for all of your contributions since 1996, from Bad Boy to Ruff Ryders/Interscope to Koch, etc. Keep doing your thing and I hope we receive more music from you all at some point! Salute my brothers!!!


THE LOX POWER RANKINGS AND RATINGS

GROUP

1. "WE ARE THE STREETS" (4.5 STARS)
2. "MONEY, POWER & RESPECT (4 STARS)


SOLO

STYLES P 

1. "A GANGSTER AND A GENTLEMAN" (4.5 STARS)
2. "TIME IS MONEY" (4.5 STARS)
3. "SUPER GANGSTER, EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMAN" (4.5 STARS)
4. "FLOAT" (4.5 STARS)
5. "THE WORLD'S HARDEST MC PROJECT" (4 STARS)
6. "MASTER OF CEREMONIES" (4 STARS)
7. "PHANTOM AND THE GHOST" (3.5 STARS)


 JADAKISS

1. "KISS OF DEATH" (4.5 STARS)
2. "KISS THA GAME GOODBYE" (4 STARS)
3. "THE LAST KISS" (4 STARS)


SHEEK LOUCH

1. "AFTER TAXES" (4.5 STARS)
2. "WALK WITT ME" (4 STARS)
3. "SILVERBACK GORILLA" (3.5 STARS)
4. "DONNIE G: DON GORILLA" (3 STARS)

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