G. Dep :: Child of the Ghetto
Label: Bad Boy Records
Author: Steve 'Flash' Juon
In the music industry, people are as quick to hail you for the heights of
success you achieve as they are to shit on your head on the way back down.
Even though Sean 'Puffy' Combs beat the rap on an attempted murder charge
and survived breaking up with Jennifer 'J-Lo' Lopez, rumors still swirl
around the self-renamed 'P. Diddy' like vultures. The latest is that his
Bad Boy record label, a powerhouse of urban music for almost a decade, is
out of fresh artists and financially insolvent.
Don't hire Enron's accountants to look into the Bad Boy books though, either way.
Whether the label is hanging on the precipice of disappearing, one rumor
certainly deserves to be quashed right now: Bad Boy is NOT out of
fresh artists. Besides R&B sensations Faith Evans and 112, and P. Diddy's
own multi-platinum record "The Saga Continues", G. Dep is the latest protege of
rap's royal family. He's far from a new jack though - in fact he scored a
LARGE underground hip-hop hit with the single "Head Over Wheels"
a few years ago. People may be surprised he signed with Bad Boy, but
who wouldn't go from living on one check to the next to a million dollar
contract? And like Black Rob and Shyne did before him, G. Dep lends hardcore
street credibility to a label that has struggled with it's hip-hop image
since Notorious B.I.G's death and the retirement of Ma$e.
G. Dep may be Puffy's best decision to date though. Having already
proven himself on the hit single "Let's Get It", that song and the
title track "Child of the Ghetto" both migrated from P. Diddy's last
release to G. Dep's first major label album. Vocally, Dep is blessed
with a distinctive tone that is hard to compare to any MC, with only
small hints of Guru and Nas in his voice. His rapping flow can be best
described as an attempt to paint starkly real portraits of survival in
the tradition of Kool G. Rap; and it's little surprise that the latter
makes a guest appearance on the song "I Am" along with legendary hip-hop
artist Rakim. Speaking of the latter, a lot of artists have recently
done cover versions of his early 80's hits, but Dep's "Doe Fiend" is
perhaps the best of the bunch. Dep uses the original as a template to
mirror Ra's memorable quips but creates an entirely new narrative.
Although Bad Boy has for better or worse earned the reputation of a label
which makes hardcore MC's create pop hits to disco beats, G. Dep definitely
ain't having it. Even his crossover hit "Special Delivery" features an
EZ Elpee beat which could best be compared to a Neptunes track mixed with
the hardcore attitude of "It's All About the Benjamins." Even on the
smoothed out tracks like Ron 'Amen-Ra' Lawrence's hot beat for "Everyday"
Dep raises the ante by lyrically blessing the track with rhymes that
will remind his underground fans why "Head Over Wheels" was such a sensation -
ain't nothing sweet over here:
"It's like I'm trapped in a maze walk around in a daze
I won't rest 'til I'm paid or I'm down in my grave
I wanna look tough, but my sneakers is scuffed
Everyday pants in the week is enough
I had a little money but it came and it went
Now it's either pay the rent or stay in a tent
And it don't make sense how the shit is intense
And all you got up in your pocket is lint, you get the hint?
I had a cigarette for breakfast, just for beginners
Pride for my lunch and sleep for dinner
Tried to go to church, priest called me a sinner
And called me everything, except for a winner"
The skeptical rap fan in the audience is going to question why any
Bad Boy release deserves high praise, but probably fail to realize that
Ma$e aside Bad Boy's rap releases tend to be their HIGHEST quality
work. There are too many ill songs to deny G. Dep his time to shine,
even when it's WITH Shyne on the ill piano riffs of "Keep it
Gangsta," heavily symphonic presentations like "I Want the World to See" with
Joe Hooker or crooner extrordinaire Carl Thomas singing his smooth
vocals on "It's All Over." The best thing to tell people who know Dep
from the days you could only find his records at Fat Beats or Rock & Soul
is that signing with a major hasn't changed his MC skills, and in fact
he benefits from a roster of Bad Boy's finest beat producers throughout.
People seem to obsess over the ratings reviews receive on the site,
so let's set the record straight: if an eight out of ten overall is
to SOME people equivalent to four mics in The Source, G. Dep
definitely earned it. Don't hate, just congratulate.
Music Vibes: 8 of 10
Lyric Vibes: 8 of 10
TOTAL Vibes: 8 of 10
Originally posted: January 15, 2002