Back in 1995, Mic Geronimo’s debut ‘The Natural’ divided the critics. Some dismissed MG as a pale imitation of Nas, while others were won over by his silky-smooth flow and the album’s head-nodding production provided by Buckwild, Da Beatminerz, Mark Sparks and, ahem, Irv Gotti (or DJ Irv as he was known back then). The record made noise in the underground but was a commercial failure, so Mic and mentor Irv went back to the lab to create a more radio-friendly sophomore: 1997’s Vendetta.
On the surface, the album would appear to be a blatant attempt at crossover success. Witness Mic rapping over syrupy love ballads (‘How You Been’ and ‘Single Life’), recycling obvious loops from yesteryear’s hits (‘Street Life’) and even dancing around in shiny suits with the king of 1997 jigginess Puff Daddy (the album’s lead single ‘Nuthin’ Move But The Money’). But in spite of all this (or maybe even because of it) this album is a long-time guilty pleasure of mine.
Although Mic Geronimo definitely ain’t saying nothing new, preferring to stick to standard materialism / boasting / hustling themes, there’s no doubting he does it better than most, coupled with one of the best flows in the business. This is heard to fine effect on the title track ‘Vendetta’ where Mic drops an intricate rapid-fire rhyme scheme over Traxster’s suitably dramacidal production.
The album’s best moments are the more reflective, universally-appealing tracks such as ‘Things Ain’t What They Used To Be’ and ‘For The Family’. On the latter, the seriously underrated K-Def (of Real Live and Lords of the Underground fame) blesses Mic with one of his trademark orchestral bangers, perfectly suited to the rapper’s vocal tone and delivery. The always-reliable Pete Rock drops by to lace another of Vendetta’s highlights, ‘Unstoppable’, which will have backpackers and gat-packers alike bobbing their heads in unison.
As for the rest of the album, well I like it a lot, but it’s probably a bit too heavy on the R&B loops for the average visitor to this site. Still for a cent its pretty good value for your hard earned spare change. On an interesting side note, nearly everyone who appeared on this album (DMX, Ja Rule, The Lox, Jay Z etc) subsequently blew up big-time. Well, except Mic Geronimo of course. After this album flopped, Irv Gotti ditched Mic, put his money with Ja ‘Murder Murder’ Rule and the rest, as they say, is history. Mic disappeared for a few years, came back with the poorly received (and barely released) Long Road Back in 2003 and hasn’t been seen since. Edit: Word is Mic is gonna drop his fourth album on September 14 this year to coincide with his birthday.
Four pairs of shiny panties out of five.