QB Finest :: Queensbridge: The Album
Author: Steve 'Flash' Juon
Everybody's got a crew, and everybody wants their crew to
shine in the fickle and fleeting world of hip-hop music.
Nas has an advantage over the people who just put on their
homies and cousins though - his fam is the ENTIRE
Queensbridge Projects. That means proven hitmakers from
MC Shan to Mobb Deep to 'Mega are all down with the set.
They show and prove it here too on this QB unification
album known as "QB Finest."
Even though the lead single on the album is "Da Bridge 2001," a
remake of MC Shan's hip-hop classic "The Bridge" that even includes
raps by Cormega and Nature (yes, ON THE SAME SONG, they
squashed the beef) Shan is behind the scenes as the elder QB
statesman that's lurking behind all the 21st century's new jacks.
When Nas came along on Main Source's first album in 1991,
he stood poised to take over Shan's king of QB throne, and
a decade later he still holds the title. Appearing on
7 of 17 tracks and releasing this LP on his own Ill Will
Records, Nas clearly is the glue that holds this shit together.
For better or worse, the tracks that feature the already well
known rap veterans of Queensbridge rock the hardest. "Our Way"
from Capone-N-Noreaga is another banger from Scott Storch, who
has been branching out from his Roots affiliations to put hot
tracks on albums East to West. "Find Ya Wealth" by Nas is the
kind of track we expect lyrically from Escobar and musically
from L.E.S., who of late only seems to be getting sharper.
In fact, this track should have been on "Nastradamus":
"Duckin truancy cops, trains I hopped, to make it downtown
Cisco in my veins, pissed between trains
Canal Street, just lookin at rings
Outside through a glass, went in the store and asked
how much it cost, Korean man brushin me off
for some other big time customer, probably a hustler
who looked down at my small chain and chuckled up
I said, 'I'll be just like you soon, motherfucker what?'"
Nas also shines on "Teenage Thug," a track which updates the
Slick Rick "Teenage Love" classic with the help of Millenium Thug.
Prodigy of Mobb Deep raps over the ominous Havoc produced
"Power Rap" as well as the "Self Conscience" - a battle of
P's id and superego for control over the life of a thug.
As brilliant as these tracks are is how bad some of the album's
lesser stars are in reverse. It's hard to imagine any baller
pushing his whip to Braveheart's "Oochie Wally" - a simple
sex braggadocio track that lacks a hard beat or good style.
As much as I'd like to get excited about the return of Roxanne
Shante on wax after her brief appearance on Frankie Cutlass,
she does nothing for "We Live This" - Havoc's track is not
up to his usual snuff either. Craig G has a reputation as
one of hip-hop's most underrated MC's but none will recognize
it when he is held back by rhyming with Lord Black, Littles,
and Chaos on "We Break Bread."
About the only unknown rapper who comes off nice on this
compilation is Mr. Challish, who undoubtedly benefits from
a hot Alchemist produced track on "Money." Overall, this
album benefits from the Nas' influence, both musically and
lyrically - and as such it comes out more ahead than behind.
From the N.W.A remake "Straight Outta Queensbridge" to the
"Kids in Da PJ's" ode to the shorties, there's a lot of good
material to be happy about. The two biggest gripes I have
about this album is that there aren't more appearances on
the album by Tragedy Khadafi and MC Shan - hometown rappers
whose talents definitely could have elevated a somewhat
better than average compilation to truly legendary status.
Music Vibes: 7 of 10
Lyric Vibes: 7 of 10
TOTAL Vibes: 7 of 10
Originally posted: January 2, 2001