If there were an entry in the dictionary for the term “cool by association,” Consequence’s picture would accompany the definition. A decade ago he rhymed with a trio of certified legends that went by the collective name of A Tribe Called Quest. His guest appearances on Tribe’s “Beats, Rhymes, and Life” LP gave him a measure of notoriety, but ATCQ would soon disband, and Consequence faded out of the hip-hop landscape.
Fast-forward to the present, and “The Cons,” as he’s dubbed himself on his mixtapes, is now being endorsed by today’s “progressive” rap clique, the G.O.O.D. Music crew. Just like his last foray into the rap game, a guest spot on a high-profile album put Cons back on the map. His self-effacing, yet heartfelt verse on “Spaceship,” off of Kanye West’s “College Dropout,” generated a new buzz for the Chi-Town native. It’s only appropriate that a live version of “Spaceship” would be included on “The Cons, Volume 3: The Comeback Kid” as its emotional finale. Amidst a chorus of fans singing along to each word, Consequence drops some of the most important bars of his life once more.
“I remember havin’ to take the Dollar Cab, comin’ home real late at night
Standing on my feet all damn day, trying to make this thing right
And having one of my co-workers say ‘Yo, you look just like
This kid I seen in an old Busta Rhymes video the other night’
Well easy come, easy go, how that saying goes
No more broad service, cars, and them TV shows
That all had got snatched from me, A & R’s and their faculties
All turned they back on me, then wanna hear a rap from me”
This verse acted as a reminder of how skilled this cat is on “College Dropout.” On this mixtape, however, the same lines are meant to whet listeners’ appetites for another full-length effort from Consequence. A few years after his appearance on Kanye’s debut album, the verse continues to serve as a testament to how much disappointment Cons has overcome. It’s this perseverance that Kanye and crew hope to highlight when they promote this rapper creepin’ on the come-up. “The Cons, Volume 3” doesn’t build a buzz on the same scale of classic mixtapes like Lil’ Wayne’s “Dedication 2,” or T.I.’s “Down With The King.” However, it does satisfy those hungry for any material out of the G.O.O.D. Music camp, and it’s a showcase for the lyrical skills of an emcee whose been paying his dues for way too long.
The mixtape starts off with the obligatory intro, but Cons puts his abundant talent to use right after that on “The Good, The Bad, The Ugly.” Behind Kanye’s signature vocal samples, Consequence incorporates the three adjectives from the song’s title on what seems like every verse, displaying his ability for creative wordplay in the process. Unfortunately, the lisp in his voice gets worse as the difficulty of his rhyme schemes increases. This bad habit occasionally resurfaces throughout the other twenty songs, but it doesn’t come close to dulling the luster of this joint. Tracks like these make it obvious why one of the genre’s greatest emcees (Q-Tip) and one of its greatest producers (West) both co-sign this underrated rapper.
The following track is “Caught Up In The Hype,” a song that probably wouldn’t work on an album because of its rehashed theme (it’s another tale about another gold digger), but nonetheless treats listeners to more lyrical mayhem from Cons. His punchlines here are typical from those found in the rest of the mixtape; listeners won’t be left breathless but instead amused.
“Oh man, I’m back in the Gucci shop
Bout to do what it takes just to get this bitch coochie hot
Cus’ I know it’s a package deal with them double-d tits
So I’ma count the bag with the double g-prints
And I feel like I’m disabled every time that she beg
Cus’ the last thing I bought cost an arm and a leg…”
The beat also helps this cut stand out, as it features samples from the classic Public Enemy song “Don’t Believe The Hype.” If Kanye West joined the Bomb Squad, records like these would probably result, because elements from both production styles are evident here.
“Do The Math” is the album’s hidden gem. As the timeless instrumental from Nas’ “2nd Childhood” plays in the background, Consequence decides to show off his verbal ingenuity. As he integrates mathematical terms in his verses, Consequence tells the tale of a young man’s rise to power and his downfall resulting from his arrogance. It’s another hustler’s story, a modern day Tony Montana who falls victim to his girlfriend’s insecurity and his own swagger. On the surface, it’s an unoriginal storytelling joint, but once again Consequence’s creativity saves the day.
Ironically, it’s also Consequence’s own inflating ego that’s behind some of the mixtape’s weaker moments. It’s no surprise that Consequence flows over 50 Cent’s “Candy Shop” instrumental on “Nose Candy,” where he name-drops every kind of sugary snack known to man. Unfortunately, Consequence’s witty wordplay is non-existent here. Masta Ace executed the same type of concept with much more grace on “Soda and Soap,” playfully using the names of well-known soda and soap brands as verbs. Consequence, on the other hand, merely replaces characters’ names throughout the song with names like “Mike and Ike,” and reaches his low point when he rhymes about a dude named “Snickers” who was apparently “nuts.” As nice as he is on the mic, rap heads can recognize a lackadaisical effort from a mile away, and this song is a glaring example of that.
When Consequence decides to ratchet up his game, however, the potential for a classic record pulses out of every rhyme. Cons outshines both Common and Kanye’s original verses on the remix for “They Say,” and he reminds listeners that he’s a veteran of the rap business on “Scarred 4 Life,” as he speaks on his experiences dealing with Industry Rule No. 4080.
Although this is a mixtape, there’s still a considerable amount of filler. It’s sad that this is so, because a rapper of Consequence’s ability could have turned these throwaway songs to solid mixtape joints on the strength of his charisma alone. He seems content to bore the audience on songs like “Get It In,” featuring Bathgate, and “Been Robbed,” with Mike Jones.
With Consequence’s inconsistent effort, “The Cons, Volume 3” ends up being a mixed bag. He shows glimpses of brilliance that fit his title of “The Comeback Kid,” and it’s the same brilliance that occasionally makes him put his drive on cruise control for too long. Despite the stretches of sub par music, the best tracks on the mixtape still make it worthy of a listen.