When your name is Warrior, qualities such as strength, militancy, and courage are almost assuredly inherent. It should come as no surprise then, that Warrior's debut album is an encapsulation of all the implications that come with his bold name, mixed with a lot of street experience, and conveyed through the now universally accessible art form that is, rap music. However, at a time when musical creativity is at an apex of importance, Warrior's album fails to generate any interesting songs, and even worse, exemplifies that rappers are still trying to blow up by exploiting rap stereotypes and projecting these over the top lifestyles with little-to-no creativity or originality.
The first track is "Gangsta Chronicles (Watch Me Survive)," and opens with Warrior criticizing "fake niggaz" and informing the listener that there's a difference between talking the cliché stuff, and living the cliché stuff. Unfortunately, it's STILL cliché stuff, and it's certainly no less boring then when a pseudo-representative raps about it, as I found out while listening to this album. But this track does work well as an introduction to the artist. The piano-driven beat is quite nice, and Warrior's first verse shows glimmers of untapped potential as he narrates through courses of events that consumed his adolescence and made him the man he is today:
"I must have been born with a criminal gene
Before the tender age of thirteen
I learned to work a triple beam and M-16
Taught the rules of the game, hustler mathematics
And how to get green, extorting ten-percenters
And getting money from dope fiends, model bitches giving me head
People labeled me kingpin, when I was barely sixteen
Luxury cars, designer clothes
Smooth gangster nigga that pulled all the hoes"
But after this less than stellar, yet obligatory opener, the album takes a turn for the worse, or should I say, DOESN'T turn or progress in any way, at all. The streets, the clubs, the women, and the cars are more than important constituents on this album; they're the only constituents on this album! Actually, there is one track that deviates from the monotony and it is certainly a diamond in the rough, or in this case, a decent cut floating in a sea of mediocre ones. "New World Order" featuring Jason Lopez is a socially conscious song, unfocused and haphazardly assembled, but effectively delivering the only positive messages on the album.
The lead single "Who's Hustlin Who" featuring Midori is a representation of just how bad the album, and hip hop in general, can get sometimes. The overplayed, overt sexuality is one thing, but tired subject matter is problem permeates the entire album. This track however, is a blatant attempt at radio friendly music that just doesn't work, possibly because the formula has been done too many times, or because the formula is just booty. A cheesy beat, decent but uninteresting female guest emcee, and quite possibly one of the worst chorus's I've ever heard, equals a downright abysmal song. Truthfully, it's hard to examine most of these songs on an individual basis, because they struggle so much to define themselves and create their own identity. Granted the relaxed feel of "I'm A Gangster" differs from the anarchist thump of "Vest," the content really doesn't fluctuate much, nor does Warrior's flow. It's not that Warrior is a bad rapper, on the contrary, his rapping is the only saving grace on an otherwise hollow album. He has that powerful voice that you want to hear from a rapper, and he raps with conviction in spite of his tired topics. This album just didn't have the direction to capitalize on the skills that Warrior has, which is disappointing and painfully apparent when you hear the final product.
I have to believe that artistic expression was never a primary issue during the creating of this album. A surplus of uninspired and predictable drivel emanates from too many of the included tracks for this album to be considered good. If Warrior hopes to make a name for himself in the rap game, he may want to focus a bit more on originality rather than emulation. As a rapper, he is certainly nowhere near the bottom of the barrel, but there is ample room for improvement, specifically in the writing department. As a representation of future projects from Warrior, and from other up-and-coming rap acts…well, let's just hope that this album isn't it.
Music Vibes: 4 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 3 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 3.5 of 10
Originally posted: March 12, 2003