Boot Camp Clik has a long hip-hop legacy going past their two 21st century releases “The Chosen Few” and “The Last Stand.” Those with long enough memories will know the seed was planted way back in 1993 when Black Moon’s “Enta Da Stage” was released, and from there a tree grew like a flower in Brooklyn. The branches of the BCC now run deep and wide through hip-hop. Even defunct BCC groups likeHeltah Skeltah simply went on to spur greater solo success for members like Sean Price. That’s the BCC motto – soldiers never die, they just get older; BCC never dies, it just gets bigger and better.
When the various BCC members come together on one group album the idea should be to create an entity bigger than any of the individual MC’s or producers involved. To a limited degree this has worked on two prior releases, but anyone who expected that they’d create the greatest rap album of all time in collaboration was probably at least mildly disappointed. No BCC album has ever been anything even close to “whack” but instead of being gestalt the efforts often seemed to crack and fault. You crave an entire song by Buckshot or Sean P, and instead they’re limited to 16 bars and forced to pass the mic to someone you may not be feeling as much. The production has always been there but it’s always been just a little short of BCC songs like “Operation Lockdown” and “I Got Cha Opin.” Try to think of an individual Boot Camp Clik song and the group dynamic tends to make them all blur together.
“Casualties of War” is therefore in many respects both blessed and cursed. There’s plenty for dyed-in-the-wool Boot Campians to love on this album. Collaborating with 9th Wonder on “I Need More” is a stroke of brilliance, and Buckshot’s opening laid back weeded flow melds perfectly with 9th’s airy production. Even the intensity of Sean Price seems tamed by Wonder’s backdrop singers, and the song leaves you craving more of this BCC enhanced groove. Marco Polo’s beat pounds incredibly hard on “I Want Mine” – a track that flashes back to the halcyon days when Duck Down seemed to have the entire underground rap scene on lock. The voice of Rockness Monstah on the track is a much needed and welcomed addition – his personality has been much missed in rap. Nottz gets about as jiggy as the BCC can get on “Bubblin’ Up” and the song might just crossover to a bigger audience with it’s bouncy flute. “What You See” is an old school throwback track that proves Dan IS ‘The Man’ on the boards, and BCC’s members easily flow to it like they’re doing a live radio station freestyle.
The shame of it all is that once again the excellent tracks start to blur into the ones that are just average. There’s not much about “BK All Day” that seperates it from generic hardcore New York rap – a monotonous bassline, repetitive sirens in the background, and a mix that practically drowns out the “I don’t give a fuck” lyrics – not that they’re that worth focusing on anyway. Hip-Hop has more than enough raps about incarceration so “Jail Song” doesn’t make an impact other than by it’s soulful opening sample. At least it’s somewhat less generic than calling a song “A-Yo,” which uses that same phrase for the intro and hook. The only real casualties on “Casualties of War” are the underrecognized BCC members whose personalities can’t shine in this format, the ones without the personality and style of Louisville Sluggah or Steele. This album will satisfy the troops on the frontlines but leave the masses starving for a BCC album that turns their overwhelming potential into an all time 10 out of 10 hip-hop classic starving for more.