Jamaica, Queens rapper Vic Damone was apparently getting tired of being confused with the V.I.C.. What’s a young rapper to do to make his name stand out in the world of music? Well Vic finally found the solution and took the last syllable of his original name and flipped it – now he’s known as M.O.N.E. pronounced like MOAN. According to his new mixtape from DJ OnPoint and DJ LGee, the acronym stands for “Music Only Needs Ears.” That’s true and (at least slightly) catchy too, so maybe M.O.N.E. can finally break out.

Instrumentally speaking, “Music Only Needs Ears” doesn’t need more of them, since you’ve undoubtedly heard most of these beats before. That’s pretty typical of New York mixtapes over the years, where the backdrop is not as important as the eager new rapper trying to make it his own even if a more famed hip-hop artist flipped it first. Give M.O.N.E. props for his honesty if anything, because there’s little doubt from the title of “Blowin Money” that the beat is jacked from Rick Ross. He’s not changing the game with his bars or saying anything any hardrock G from New York hasn’t said before, but his vocal tone and delivery aren’t offensive:

“Look, I fucks with everybody, they fuck with me
But you bitch niggaz, just ain’t my cup of tea
Can’t keep my company, if you niggaz come for me
It’s gon’ be a lot of spilled ketchup, but none for me
You niggaz talk it, you only talkin, no bloodshed
Fuck you old head niggaz, that’s how Blue Blood said it
I love my hood, I love my niggaz
I know those killers, that squeeze them triggers
I’m on my shit, bitch I’m +Too Legit to Quit+
Ye ain’t know my flow is MC Hammer? You ain’t touchin Vic”

I’m not sure if that last line was intentionally clever or not given Rick Ross had a song called “MC Hammer” on “Teflon Don,” but M.O.N.E. definitely seems to be dropping jewels here and there. He also shows off a tendency to not link thoughts together in the manner Drake has made so familiar with his bars: “I’m the Million Dollar Man… Ted DiBiase.” Not LIKE Ted DiBiase. You’re just supposed to assume the word’s there. That’s alright though. The choice of jacks is very up to date for summer/fall 2010, as M.O.N.E. even manages to rip up an instrumental version of Kanye West’s “Power.”

“Yeah, now what we lookin like nigga?
The eyes never lie and you ain’t lookin right nigga
No wonder why you broke cause you ain’t cook it right nigga
Chip Ahoy, big boy, you that cookie type nigga?
I go sick with the flow, bro six past gold
New monopoly, six double oh, no stoppin me
This is all I know, I’m speakin honestly
We ain’t in the hood no mo’, and we ain’t tryin to be”

Although there are a few too many scratch-ins and DJ drops throughout “Music Only Needs Ears,” the overall presentation is effective and none of it ever reaches “KA-LOO-MIH-KNOTTY” levels of annoyance. If you’re going to borrow and steal, borrow and steal from dope shit, and M.O.N.E. and his cohorts do that time and again on tracks like “Super Fly” and “Angels.” Even the tracks that profess to be original productions like the Topnotch produced “She Bad” is undeniably a clone of GangStarr’s “Mass Appeal” (R.I.P. Guru). There’s nothing inherently wrong with “Music Only Needs Ears” – the former Vic Damone/Vic D/whatevs needed a mixtape to get his new name out there and found a couple of well known partners to help him do it. There’s also nothing inherently overwhelming about it. M.O.N.E. is occasionally clever lyrically, but he’s not eating anybody in D-Block for lunch, let alone someone known for mixtapes outside of N.Y.C., let alone an all-time cipher king. He’s just there – not awful, not outstanding, but okay. I never regretted listening to “Volume 1” but I’m not running out to scour the internet looking for “Volume 2.”

M.O.N.E. :: Music Only Needs Ears Vol. 1
5Overall Score