Stimuli :: Follow My Lead :: Cut Entertainment
as reviewed by Matt Barone

Hearing a fresh-voiced MC spit his rhymes with passion and hunger is always welcome this day in age. With the rap game currently at one of its highest peaks of success, the flood of rookie rappers is deeper than ever, but the number of truly talented ones is minimal. This being the case, Brooklyn's latest rhyming product Stimuli stands out amongst the pack, possessing vast potential as he injects admirable amounts of substance into his music. With his buzz heating up, Cut Entertainment has issued Follow My Lead, the second 'mixtape chronicle' highlighting Stimuli's abilities.

Stimuli, who first gained notoriety when he was awarded The Source magazine's Unsigned Hype title last year, is a diverse MC, attacking various subjects that achieve success the majority of the time. "Follow My Lead" begins this disc quite nicely, with our host riding the track's ominous vocal samples with ease, while the scattered horns heard on "The Rhythm" keep things simple enough for Stimuli to exhibit his boasting skills. His flow is highlighted by rather complex and intricate wordplay, delivered with noticeable confidence. Over the soulful instrumental heard on the same-titled Diplomats song, "Who Am I?" showcases Stimuli's impressive lyrical presence:

"My name is Sha, Stimuli's what they call me
The living legend, in sessions, there have been a few before me
But after me, there will never be another with a story
and a flow to get the audience to give their praise and glory, ooh
The visionary, the messiah, the walking angel
Past, present, future, truth, mama told you don't talk to strangers
So I'd like to introduce myself, Sha-Stimuli
This is my life, you can try to criticize, but I'm here"

Haters are served believable threats on the uptempo 'Going Out", and the cinematic emotion felt on "Sun Don't Shine" allows Stimuli to address our world's darker aspects while offering some much-needed positive rebuttal. Stimuli seems to be most comfortable delving into his own confusing existence, expertly tackling self-examination issues that prove to be this disc's strongest moments. Alarming violins and moody percussion punctuate his request of God to watch over him on "D'Angels", while he blesses 'Break It Down" with pure honesty:

"I've been in this game for months, but I ain't see no capitol
College gave me some knowledge but dollars was coming gradual
Lord, I do what I have to do
The thrill of chilling comfortably got us acting like animals
On the block sweating, cuz cops be dressing casual
And niggas always snitching, I'm scared of dying
but actually I'd rather that than prison
My partners have came up missing
other man got a sentence for distribution, possession
He called me crying, repenting
I just let him talk, he know the moves we making
Asked if I got second thoughts, 'Nah'
Not when your shorty is doing the pregnant walk
I swear that it's not mine, she told me to stop lying
Forgive me, I'm getting lost"

As is the case with most rookies trying to break into the hip-hop forefront, Stimuli makes some questionable choices of subject matter. "Stop What You Doin" is completely out-of-place on this disc, distracting from his more introspective fair with a cheesy "Billie Jean" bass line jacking and gimmicky Punjabi MC appearance. "Everything's A Go" warrants usage of the Skip button with it's bland verses by Stimuli and guest Dutchess on top of the repetitive Just Blaze beat found on Memphis Bleek's last album, while "Walk On Water" suffers from a generic-sounding, West Coast influenced backdrop.

In the end, though, Follow My Lead is not Stimuli's official album, so mishaps are to be expected. What this collection of songs is intended to do is to generate further buzz, and in that respect, Follow My Lead gets a definite thumbs-up. While his name most likely won't ring bells for now, the gifts that Stimuli displays on this release make it clear that he deserves to be heard on a larger scale. Once his rhymes are heard outside of the New York City area, Stimuli should have listeners nationwide following his lead, and potentially could be the next freshman success story.

Music Vibes: 7 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 8 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 7.5 of 10

Originally posted: June 22, 2004