After tearing up the clubs with 1997′s “Off The Books” and 1999′s “Watch Out Now”, Psycho Les and JuJu followed the same pattern of a release every two years with 2001′s “Take It Or Squeeze It”. Rather than trying to be jacks-of-all-trades, with their fifth album the ‘Nuts aimed with their usual focused precision, proving themselves as the masters of festive ceromonies…much like an East Coast version of tha Liks. On this album, the Beatnuts churned out club records like a well-oiled machine-without sounding overly predictable. With years of production experience for the likes of Naughty by Nature, Common Sense, Chi Ali, etc., the ‘Nuts were definitely studio veterans by the time of this release. Nevertheless, they still managed to produce with the wide-eyed curiosity of kids with finger paint. The music on “Take It Or Squeeze It” was still inventinve and quirky, from the chirpy symphony of “Who’s Comin Wit’ Da Sh*t” Na” to the kazoo-melodies of “It Ain’t Gangsta”.
Just as they had done on their previous material, the group continued to incorporate Latin rhythms masterfully; the meandering, salsa-sprinkled “Hood Thang” and the slow, sizzling “Prendelo (Light It Up)” were packaged tightly. With it’s guitar-riff interpolation of De La’s “All Good” and a Fatman Scoop-esque chorus, “Let’s Git Doe” was yet another Beatnuts banger in the same vein as “Off The Books”. The ‘Nuts have always had the fresh-faced energy of pre-East Coast/West Coast war b-boys. Thus, the album may not be lyrically engaging for you next-schoolers that love intricate wordplay and such. But on the album’s tightest track, the operatic bounce of “No Escapin’ This” the Beatnuts once again proved they had more on their minds than just partying. I’ve always considered myself to be one of the Beatnuts biggest fans, so I may be a bit partial. Even so, I highly recommend given this one a listen.
Tha Liks have always be one of the last great party groups in underground Hip Hop. After crafting party anthems like “Make Room”, “Daaam!” and “Hip Hop Drunkies” (feat. Ol’ Dirty Bastard), it’s safe to say that few others could match tha Liks “care-free” approach to the music; party accessible rhymes, infectious funk grooves with an intoxicating, “who gives a sh*t attitude” in tow. J-Ro, E-Swift and Tash have always been about having a good time whether you care to join them for their drunken expedition or not. Like their past work, 2001′s “X.O. Experience” contained a few potential party anthems that were designed to enrapture you in thick, rolling bass lines and witty lyrical jabs with extra catchy hooks to boot.
True, J-Ro and Tash may not have dropped the same lyrical “gems” as they did on past efforts like “21 & Over”, “Coast II Coast” and at times, “Likwidation”. But after nearly a decade on the mic, at the time of this release, their chemistry and flow were lock-tight as they handled much of the lyrical duties on “X.O. Experience” in an effortless fashion. Guests such as Defari, Xzibit and Kurupt moderately sprinkled a little extra flavor on the album as well. However, don’t forget about E-Swift either, as he joined his two partners to help spell out tha Liks list of debaucheries on “L-I-K-S”. Speaking of E-Swift, his hardcore but bouncy production flowed quite nicely, with a hint of flavor for both coasts. Swift consistently has proven himself to be one of Hip-Hop’s most underrated and forgotten producers, even today. Whether is was flipping Art of Noise’s “Moments In Love” on “40 Oz.” or adding a heavy dose of monster guitars and horns on “Promote Violins” Swift still had a “good ear” for funky beats. Also of note, DJ Scratch backs up tha Liks on this LP with the video-game sounds of “Bully Foot”, while Rockwilder carried on this tradition of buzzing electronic effects on both “Run Wild” and “Sickness”.
The one major beef that I’ve always had with “X.O. Experience” is this, their fourth album, continued to rely on the same formula of party anthems and drunkenness…becoming too predictable at times. Not saying that didn’t achieve astounding results out of that same exact formula, it’s just that a change would be nice from time to time. Even so, tha Liks cranked out yet another decent album for their extensive catalog.
Damn, who else here can recall the moment that they first heard O.C.’s “Time’s Up”?? With one single track, this BK native struck fear in the hearts of all subpar emcees in 1994. A timeless, poignant anthem based on street cred, “Time’s Up” would go on to be O.C.’s most notable hit to date. O.C. has always been able to deliver both witty and straightforward cadences, and at one time Hip Hop purists even hailed him as the reigning prince of the underground. Unfortunately, “Industry Rule 4080″ had caused O.C. to disappear for nearly three years between the release of O’s debut, “Word…Life” and his follow-up “Jewelz”.
Nearly four years after the release of “Jewelz” O.C. reemerged with a new offering of beats and rhymes with “Bon Appetit”, an album that continued to make use of the “true and tried” East Coast sound. However, it often seemed as if O placed too much attention on grabbing the attention of the new millennium’s youth, often tampering with the original recipe that made both “Word..” and “Jewelz” soo damn good. Even though O.C. is still a lyrical wizard to this day, his crime tales were void of the same depth that he packed on the aforementioned albums. “One Nite Stand” and the Southern-influenced “Bounce” are far from what we were used to hearing from the same cat who dropped “Time’s Up”. Whereas O’s subject matter and lyrical content once gracefully spanned from his personal philosophy to childhood fables, “Bon Appetit” covered Hip Hop’s generic slogans of sex and partying.
The album barely treads water thanks to O.C.’s infectious charisma and a couple of noteworthy appearances from close associates. Over the sparse piano track and guitar lick on “Soul To Keeps”, O.C. proclaimed: “Gone is the humble kid/I’m gunnin’ for No. 1 and sh*t”. His quest for No. 1 was also evident on the string-laden ode to weed on “Weed & Drinks” featuring his D.I.T.C. brethren A.G. However, for those of us that can recall just how gully O.C. was at one time, “Bon Appetit” will only have you reminiscing about the glory days of “Time’s Up”. Don’t say I didn’t warn ya’!!