Baby Beesh :: On Tha Cool :: Dope House Records
as reviewed by Matt Jost

With the rap industry having established itself in so many areas, a career can span a couple of albums in a number of years even if the rapper never hits the jackpot. Often, supplying local markets turns out to be more lucrative for artists as there are simply less people to share revenues with. On a local level, those smart enough can always re-invent themselves, find new business partners, move to a new location, start a new label, etc. Back in 1994, rapper Baby Beesh was one-fourth of the Bay Area outfit Potna Deuce, who had an album called "Welcome to da Tilt" on Profile. They were dropped from the label, but still managed to put out another disc. Beesh went on to form the group Latino Velvet with N2Deep's Jay Tee, releasing two more albums. In 2000, he bid farewell to the Bay Area with the "Baby Beesh Presents Whatz Really - Game One" compilation, hooked up with South Park Mexican's Dope House label, and finally got a shot at his solo debut, entitled "Savage Dreams". Today, the Vallejo, CA veteran resides in Houston and has yet another album out.

Featuring Dope House dwellers such as Happy Perez, Russell Lee, Grimm, Mario Ayala, Rasheed, and SPM himself, "On Tha Cool" follows the lead of the Lone Star Ridaz longplayer "40 Dayz 40 Nightz", with a sound much more mellow than earlier Dope House releases. In fact, its sound can neither be pinned down as Dirty South or Bay Area. One thing's for sure though: Amateurs of keyboard-processed hip-hop should take notice, because "On Tha Cool" is an introductory course on how that shit is supposed to be freaked. The prevailing mood is smooth, a couple of cuts are even ready for radio airplay. But what it really is is music to ride to. Producers Happy Perez and Mario Ayala provide the perfect soundtrack for a ride around the block, across town or even around the world - it's that universal. It's not really the type of rider music hip-hop is known to produce, as you can easily imagine joints like the guitar-laced "Feelin Me", "On Tha Cool" or "Dime Piece" being played at a club when it's slow motion time.

But selections like the heavily pulsating "Intro (Aw Naw)" (produced by Bay Area legend Johnny Z) or the Latino Velvet reunion "They Don't Even Know" just make you wanna get behind the wheel and take that baby for a smoked out ride - as he literally does in the reggae-tinged "Woy Oy" he produces himself. And for those not riding aimlessly around but actually on a mission, songs like "On da Go" or "Vamanos" (masterfully tweaked by Big Ice and Oral Bee) might help them get motivated for whatever their mission is. But like Baby Beesh says: "Loose lips sink ships in the barrio / sometime the grind seem like a party though". And that's exactly what he makes "On Tha Cool" seem like, a party. Complimenting the flawless flow of the music with a relaxed head-nod inducing delivery, Baby Beesh really gets +into+ the groove. This is a genre of rap where lyrics are not that important, as they very much become part of the music. And that's exactly why so-called lyricists might learn something from listening to rappers like Beesh. Him and his partners are great at creating moods, and not surprisingly that includes what's being said. "Posted Up" for instance is about doing nothing, really, and that's also what Beesh talks about, consistently, right down to the conclusion: "And if you ask me again, I'ma tell you the same: / I'm just posted up, mane."

Not one to neglect the females, Baby Beesh makes his preferred skirt length known in "Short Skirts", compares his love to "chronic smoke" in "Hydro Luv" and surrenders willingly to brainiacs on "Head Hunta". The best of these more or less sexually explicit cuts has to be the Mario Ayala-produced "Early in da Morning" with its countrified vibe. One step too far into foreign territory ventures "Too Many Things" which is just too much in the vein of Everlast's Whitey Ford stuff. Also, the reminiscing "Yesterday" features one of those token dusty samples that people just use when it comes to songs like this. Still, Baby Beesh gets credit for digging a little deeper lyrically here than on the rest of the album.

As "In Motion" sees Baby Beesh heading out into the night again, for the listener "On Tha Cool" comes to a halt. During the ride, you might have wondered: "Is it West Coast, East Coast or Down South?" Like Baby Beesh you might have come to the conclusion: "I don't really know but dude got a foul mouth," but you might have missed him adding "it's all real talk if you muthafuckas listen" altogether, because what you were listening to was music, not talk.

Music Vibes: 8 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 6 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 7 of 10

Originally posted: August 27, 2002