Featured in today's 'Where Are They Now?' column is Bushwick Bill of Geto Boys fame. In this case, the answer is quite simple. He's here, on the cover of this CD, which shows him twice, once wearing an eye patch and rocking a mic, once in a close-up. Initially, the Geto Boys faithful in me suspected that these aren't the most recent photos. Now I think they might as well be taken a few months ago. But why would I take a closer look at an artist's picture? I have reason to be suspicious about this particular set-up, which introduces us to a bunch of unknown artists, all the while explicitly 'featuring Bushwick Bill' and being advertised with his face on the cover.
Since leaving Rap-A-Lot Records and the Geto Boys in the mid-nineties, Bill has released two solo albums, "No Surrender... No Retreat" and "Universal Small Souljah", which somehow didn't feel like proper Bushwick Bill solo albums. Not only did the second one repackage several songs that were already on the first one, neither one seemed like Bushwick had a lot of creative control over them (or even much cared to). Musicians drop out of the major league all the time, facing all kinds of problems and getting involved in all types of questionable projects. Shit happens. But being a long-time fan, I have a hard time accepting that Bushwick Bill, mastermind of the macabre and all-around clever guy would content himself with putting out music that sucks or sell his name to the highest bidder.
Initially, my fears seemed to get confirmed. This album is the third Bushwick-related project to feature a particular track that by now is at least five years old, here entitled "U Gonna Be My Bitch". Likewise, "Bushmotherfuckingwick" was already on "Universal Small Souljah". The problem with this is that if you market an album to Bushwick fans who then have to find out that they already know the two solo tracks, there's going to be some disappointment along the way. Chances are, they're not gonna bother to pick up the next project with his name on it (unless it's an unlikely Geto Boys reunion).
The good news is that Bushwick Bill in deeper involved with Different Styles Organization than just submitting two old tracks and lending his name. The estimated Dr. Wolfgang appears on the first single, "Do Tha Damn Thang", introducing the crew, leading the chorus and spitting a few bars himself, signing off defiantly: "I'm blowed, Bushwick Bill in a zone of my own [...] do the damn thing on my own." While it doesn't seem like this project is entirely his brainchild, let's be glad for the newcomers who get some additional exposure.
Having the endorsement of a hip-hop legend is certainly a selling point, especially if you're in the process of introducing eleven new hip-hop acts to the world. Together they form the Different Style Organizations (DSO), but in reality most of it is standard Down South hip-hop as it's been popular for some time now. It certainly wouldn't be a surprise if some of these tracks would already get clubs crunk below the Mason-Dixon. The typically rowdy "Do Tha Damn Thang" leads the way, others follow. "Club Scene" is a slow-strutting ode to the nightlife as experienced by EJ, who admits, "I love that club scene / where them ladies be wearin' them see-through clothes and I can see the g-string," but at the same time looks for more in a woman:
"Man, I love that club scene
where them ladies be lookin' sweet like that cocoa butter cream
Ass in 'em jeans, eyes bloodshot red from that sticky green
Can I get yo number, beautiful black queen?
Oh, you beautiful and you fine, oh, I like the way you look
but can you conduct yourself like a lady
do you know how to cook or read a book?"
Street Schoarz are not that thoughtful, promising women "naythin' but penetration" on "Monkey Nutz". Mixing guttural, melodical flows, sexually explicit lyrics and a pimpish attitude, they are certainly not far off from today's scene. Young Gotti (not Kurupt) on the other hand sounds a tad bit too much like the Hot Boys in their heydays. With a song title like "Bitch Nigga What the Fuck Hugh?", guess what the chorus is gonna be...
For the most part, "The Compilation" is indeed low on surprises. One song however is surprisingly catchy, and for once it doesn't follow a Southern formula. "Explicit" by Fiya (produced by Mr. Phat) swings like an old time jazz song, the rappers getting into the groove by adding a little swing of their own with their flows, making the strip club ditty a standout track.
Excpept for the occasional Ruff Ryder ("I Ride For My Doggs" by Street Schoarz) or Ja Rule influence ("In Due Time" by Camillion), these rappers stick to the Southern script, from the snares going wild on "Pimp Change" by the MVP's to "I'm a Playa (That's How I Ride)" by MBA, the only track to openly bling-bling on an album that is definitely more gutter than glamour. DSO get together one last time on "Mustang Sally", where a singer assures us that "everybody gotta know that these niggas on the rise, they the realest, the trillest."
That remains to be seen. Considering all the top acts the Dirty has to offer today, it will be hard for any of those tracks and acts to make a substantial amount of noise. Add the fact that the mastering isn't on the same level on every track, that the female singers aren't of the highest caliber, and the constant glitches in "I Ride For My Doggs", and you have a CD that isn't ready yet to occupy the shelves next to Lil Jon, Nappy Roots and Ludacris. Not to mention that Bushwick seems slightly out of place with his sicko stance he displays in "Bushmotherfuckingwick": "I'm the sickest dude walkin', sickest nigga rappin' / sick, I'm lookin' for a vein to put a track in / I'm sizzurped out, weeded out and what not / eyes bloodshot cause my eye was shot / I don't care, drinkin' Everclear worse than before..."
But the oddest thing about this album are the three tracks featured after a radio edit of "Do Tha Damn Thang" concludes the Dirty South section. Wolftown Committee's "Blast" from overseas is far from special, but way worse are the two selections by Houston's Christian outfit Nuk Ruk featuring a Method Man-soundalike rapping about Jesus Christ over an interpolation of Berlin's slushy '80s song "Take My Breath Away".
Music Vibes: 5 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 5 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 5 of 10
Originally posted: October 28, 2003