Cool Breeze’s resume speaks for itself. A longtime pal of Atlanta’s seminal rap visionaries OutKast and Goodie Mob, his legendary verses on “Dirty South” and “Decatur Psalm” were enough to make any Dungeon Family fan put down the soul food and slow down his Eldorado long enough to wonder “Who IS this guy?” However, it wasn’t until after OutKast’s third multiplatinum effort that major labels began to pick up the duo’s relatives, and in 1999 Cool Breeze’s debut “East Points Greatest Hit” saw the light of day on Interscope. Blessed with the Midas touch of Organized Noize Productions and guest appearances from his D.F. brethren as well as Kurupt, 8Ball, and Nivea, Cool Breeze’s debut LP set to prove that he would be the “Greatest Hit” to emerge from his East Point neighborhood.
Cool Breeze is out to rep the Dirty South to the fullest – some even give him credit for coining the term, or if not then popularizing it – and “East Points Greatest Hit” features tales of his Atlanta hood and the lifestyle that pervades the American South, such as on the Witchdoctor and BackBone collaboration “Hitman” and title track “EPGH.” “Black Gangster” and “Good Good” paint visual pictures of the East Point streets on which Breeze claims a steady presence. Particularly good tracks from ONP inspire digging deep for some introspection or more conceptual material, such as the frenetic, abstract opener “Ghetto Camelot” and the irresistibly smooth and otherworldly “Butta,” where he raps metaphorically:
“Take you to get yo’ nails done, play that song ‘The Player’s Ball’
Run you over Keisha house, drop you off by Greenbrown Mall
It don’t matter how long you try to keep me out
I’ma still chop and dice you up like we were at the Waffle House
Girls always asking me like what do I mean
When I say butter berry cream when I’m floatin’ downstream
See this type of butter ain’t like Land-O-Lakes
It’s just moist in the middle like some hot pancakes
When I go over her house she always sittin’ alone
And be playin’ my songs, I mean like all night long
If I, Cool Cutta, gave one reply
When I wake up in the morning, my cholestorol high”
Still, for the most part he’s a grittier, more street-oriented rapper than his contemporaries. However, while he’s okay lyrically for the most part, from a technical perspective he’s elementary – a weakness that probably escaped most listeners on his classic guest verses proves the biggest problem with “East Points Greatest Hit.” Cool Breeze lacks the ability to vary his flow not only during verses, but apparently, in general. He rhymes only the last word of each line, emphasizing it so as to make clear that it’s the punch, and each line contains the same amount of syllables spaced identically, often with repeated pauses that make the verses choppy and cumbersome. It’s an odd and fatal flaw for an otherwise passable rapper, and it becomes so impossible to overlook to the point that it’s downright bothersome.
The LP’s biggest draw is the first single “Watch for the Hook,” a posse cut on which damn near the whole Dungeon Family shows up. Over a minimalist ONP beat, Big Rube, Andre 3000, Witchdoctor, Cee-Lo, Khujo, Big Gipp, Big Boi, and T-Mo bounce rhymes off each other without a hook, and Cool Breeze’s marathon verse makes for a well-conceived finale.
Organized Noize produces fourteen of the seventeen tracks, and attempts to lace them with the “Aquemini”-era creativity that made them world-renowned in the late-90s. The transcendent sound of “Tenn Points” and the aforementioned “Butta” recall their work on Witchdoctor’s “A S.W.A.T. Healin’ Ritual.” “The Field” has wild drum patterns and a great hook from Nivea as Cool Breeze offers his most personal accounts on the album:
“See growin’ up is like a girlfriend
You keep yo’ cool, take yo’ time, and when yo’ day come you put it in
That’s a reflection on yo’ whole life
From the moments you wake up to those minutes that you pray at night
Like when they pushed you at the playground
And all yo’ friends would wonder why you yelled “The Field” before you threw down
That’s just yo’ instincts tryin’ to tell yo’ heart
That is yo’ mother wished the best for you, you’d be tested it from the jump start
So that’s when people come around and wonder
What make you tick, how you do it, but you keep yo’ business on the under
I ask my folks questions every season
They say the Lord blessed every child, boy he blessed you with a reason
So with that I go for years and years
On a quest to return and reveal to my peers”
“Weeastpointin'” is the best track, a wonderfully funky anthem with Sleepy Brown. Cool Breeze has only one sixteen after two minutes of Sleepy’s soulful analysis of late-night cruising and shiny Cadillacs, but it’s a phenomenal cut and captures the Dungeon Fam at their collaborative best. “Doin’ It in the South” is similarly successful with an upbeat, funky backing.
Still it’s easy to get the feeling that some of the beats here were those rejected by Cool Breeze’s more infamous neighbors. The stale p-funk of the Kurupt duet “We Get It Crunk” sounds extremely dated for a 1999 release, it goes nowhere lyrically, and worst of all it’s inexplicably censored for radio with poor and frequent bleeping of vulgarities. Even the single “Cre-A-Tine” and “Good Good” are too sparse and repetitive and expose Cool Breeze’s simplistic rhyme schemes. Further problems include some awkward hooks, stupid skits, and a few instances of poor sound quality.
Despite Cool Breeze’s shortcomings from a technical standpoint, “East Points Greatest Hit” hits more than it misses. Cool Breeze is likable for the thoughtful reminiscence and Southern charisma he shares with his Dungeon Family brethren, and although his debut positioned him as a second-tier artist of the D.F. roster, fans of the collective will want to pick it up for the collaborations and ONP beats. Neither of OutKast’s subsequent fruitless label ventures, Aquemini Records and Purple Ribbon Ent., produced another Cool Breeze album, and although Cool Breeze still shows up for the periodic D.F. project, “East Points Greatest Hit” remains his sole LP, making him a one-“Hit” wonder in more ways than one.