Sheek Louch is the Lox’s most underrated and overlooked member. His debut album, “Walk Witt Me,” was slept on even by D-Block fans as the emergence of rap movements hit just after it dropped. Today, cult-like followings ensure that every mixtape dropped by the likes of The Diplomats and D-Block are gobbled up by the streets and suburban admirers alike. Thankfully, Sheek Louch doesn’t rely on the fact he knows his shit will sell by mere strength, and actually comes through with a solid album. Though Jadakiss’ latest was definitely a good album, “After Taxes” may actually be the most solid and consistent record released by the Lox to date. Mixing a healthy dose of street tracks with a few decent ladies tracks, Louch manages to provide something for everyone.

The album starts off strong as Sheek takes no prisoners on the intro:

“I’m back motherfuckers, get the mac muh’fuckers
Pull it out the trunk, clack clack muh’fuckers
I told y’all to “Walk Witt Me,” dropped somethin sick on it
And I ain’t put no one but my motherfuckin clique on it (D-Block)
No R&B, I ain’t have no muh’fuckin chick on it
These other niggaz songs, jail niggaz beat they dick on it
Now I got a couple guests; friends, got a couple less
I don’t give a fuck, my bullets goin through a couple vests
This ain’t rehearsal; you TV, I’m DVD bitch
What I’m sayin is ain’t no commercial
I came to stomp shit out, drive by or get out
Got a lil’ money but, I’m used to bein without
So act like I won’t put your face on the side of Chase
Then take your Bass right off your little designer waist
Can beat you with the hands, but I’m packin just in case
Dice game, niggaz sweatin, hopin that I ace
Real niggaz fuck with me, thank you if you stuck with me
Now the whole hood, screamin out a nigga company
D-B, L-O-C-K
Still got the turntables right next to the instant replay
First I let you get to know me, now this one here
I’ma let you bitches get to blow me, talk to ’em slowly
Fuck bein humble, and fuck the sophomore jinx
I been around since the Benjamins was in the Tunnel
It ain’t changed, I seen niggaz turn Bryant Gumbel
After that, I done wild out and didn’t fumble
I even threw two guns up like I was in the jungle
You will now board, flight number 3-5-4
First class hip-hop, and we landin in hardcore
The music niggaz pray to they God for
Y’all niggaz judge it yourself
But if you soft and don’t do dirt, this music might be bad for your health”

The opening verse is indicative of what’s to come as Sheek seems intent on proving he’s just as capable as any other member of The Lox. “Street Music” follows and finds Sheek shouting out to street gangs and hustlers nationwide over pounding piano/synth beat. “On the Road Again” is a deeper track as Sheek explains his career during the last few years over a smooth beat. Jadakiss lends his support for the funky bass-driven “Pain” and shows that though Louch is definitely a force he’s still the trio’s lyrical king. “45 Minutes to Broadway” is an interesting song as it’s one of the harder ladies tracks I’ve heard in a while. By the looks of the producer/emcee line up on ” One Name” one would think it would be one of the album’s rawest tracks, but Rockwilder and Sheek team up with Carl Thomas for a smooth R&B cut that could actually see radio play with the right promotion.

After an unnecessary skit poking fun at Yayo, Louch releases a stinging G-Unit diss entitled “Maybe If I Sing.” The track is more of a personal attack than a display of impressive wordplay, but it’s definitely a worthy adversary to “Piggybank.” “Kiss You Ass Goodbye” is the next notable track, with Fabolous, Beanie Siegel, and T.I. showing up for the remix. Just like the original, the beat is one of the hardest street tracks to be released in a long time and each emcee spits with a vengeance. Other notable guest spots include a rare appearance by Redman on “Get Up Stand Up.” The track itself isn’t the most original in concept but it feels good to hear Reggie Noble spitting lines like:

“Yo – yo Sheek lemme get some of that, yo
Aiyyo my uzi weigh a ton, Redman half baked
I’m smokin pounds, you hang around with Nasty Nate
The great dane straight change, bitches close drapes
Cause my product, Ultramagnetic like Kool Keith
This for my hood niggaz sellin sticky by the sto’
I rip your hottest MC like eenie mynie moe
Fuck dough I do it for fun, “Juice” like Bishop
“American Pie” nigga, hit your momma like Stiffler
Redman and Sheek Louch, you got a brief clue
Who will tie you up like E did to P in “Beef Two”
I cheat dude, give me a Maybach to breathe
So I’m determined, like AJ after Free
I don’t play games I’m grown, on 26 chrome
Inside of my truck is ESPN Zone
Shame on a nigga, that try to run game on a nigga
I bring pain on a nigga”

Other guests rounding out the last half of the album include Jadakiss, Styles, and Ghostface Killah. Ghost shows up for his usual energetic cameo on “Movie Niggas” while Sheek and Styles end the album nicely with the original version of “Kiss Your Ass Goodbye.”

“After Taxes” will definitely impress those who had written off Sheek as that other member of the Lox. His flow is on point, lyrics upgraded, and he has the hunger of a rookie. The album isn’t without its setbacks as a few unnecessary skits and couple of unimpressive filler tracks show up. But overall, Sheek Louch shows he can not only hold his own, but hold down the fort while Styles and Jada work out label issues.

Sheek Louch :: After Taxes
8Overall Score