Always prevalent in the past but now more prominent than ever, crew-born rappers are hitting it big. When nation wide audiences don't even connect Chingy to DTP (Disturbing The Peace) anymore, and Murphy Lee is catching more publicity pics than Nelly's glittering grill, its apparent a change in trends is upon us. It is the era of the entourage. And after Kayne West secured superstar status with "College Dropout," a swift prospect was sure to follow. Sure enough, four months later Consequence comes soul training out of the Kon Man crew with "Take'em to the Cleaners."
You heard him on "Spaceship" describe his position in the game as "Yo you look just like this kid I seen in the old Busta Rhymes video the other night." Well, that pretty well sums it up. He has always been dancing around in the background but never recognized as a real MC. Once he emerged momentary as a possible Q-Tip protégé, but when his mentor went missing- so did he. Now he pops up again under similar circumstances of an entourage MC piggybacking his platinum producer. Since there seems to be no stopping West's popularity spot light, Consequence might finally get his chance to shine and shine bright in the Kon Man's light.
The real question is not of proposed fame but of real talent. With competition in the entourage epidemic so high, is Consequence vicious enough to swim with the second-hand snakes? Is his soul sampling, turntable trainer powerful enough yet to safely push a candidate into that kind of Royal Rumble? Quence better muscle up and muster tuff if he plans to vault himself into the battle royal of entourage rappers. Can he take the Consequences? (I know it's cheesey pun but I had to use it.)
The album starts off sunny enough with "So Soulful," a Kayne West produced track of his usually, vintage panache. It closely resembles the 'feel good' type of tracks that defined the "College Dropout" sound. Kayne West lays the first verse followed by Consequence, both in harmony with the track. However, it hurts a little that the first song off Consequence's solo debut sounds like a "College Dropout" throwback, and the first person we hear is West rapping instead of the main artists. It just feels like Consequence is still riding shotgun on his own album.
"Yard 2 Yard" spars Quence against his guest, Rhyme, to bounce some Ping-Pong phonics over a rather uninspiring West beat. "Doctor, Doctor" is the first song that really feels like a Consequence track. With 88 Keys on the beat, Consequence can get out from underneath his promoter's shadow; and if it weren't for the apathetic hoodrat on the hook, draining the life out of the song, it would be a banger.
"Wack Niggas" is a star-studded showcase of conscience rappers, including Talib Kweli, Common, and Kayne West. Yet even as appreciable as the big name cameos are, their overwhelming dominance in the song brings back the identity crisis Quence started off with: he feels like a guest rapper on his own album. In fact, it seems any song not exclusive to Quence is detrimental to his distinctiveness. Where Canibus said "Nobody can shine on a song that features me," the opposite proves true here- Consequence can't shine on a track with anybody else on it.
Moving along, "You & Your Nigga" is a tolerable derivation on infidelity. "I See Now" has a light, feel-good bodyrock with a pinch of the classics, inherently provided by 9th Prince's production. "And You Say" is another chipper, laid-back track with a flute that sings like songbirds. "Getting Out the Game" was straight MADE for Ghostface on some "Supreme Clientele" sad soul. After Kayne admittedly voiced what a huge impact that album had on his production style, he should have held it out for Ghost. Consequence doesn't do it justice.
The album slowly closes with Consequence's voice phonic sounding closer and closer to his maniacal mentor, Kanye West. "Take it at a loss" is as vintage as Sanford and Son's junkyard: just crappy. Quence just seems to lose his identity when he gets anywhere near his Gospel Godfather. Whether it's by music like "So Soulful" or his copycat vocals on "Turn Ya Self In", Quence will always be number 2 in a West's world. It's the alternate, lesser-known producers who give Quence a chance to distinguish himself. Even then it sometimes becomes hard to separate the two. If you get confused just check for bad annunciation and a sanded down sound and that's Consequence - his accent and flow flips are finicky.
Honestly, Consequence is just too soft spoken to go solo. His rhymes seem to run together like whispers. Consequence's strengths stand with his knack for matching beats. No matter who the producer, his falsetto, finicky flow stays synchronously on-beat. However, there is a huge difference between a rapper like Biggie who set his style in stone on "Ready to Die" and then graciously experimented with beat-matching on "Life after Death," and a rapper who can only bend to the beat. Consequence flips up flows so much the audience never gets a chance to nail him down as anything but a West wannabe. Very possibly Consequence has been flipping guest spots so much he doesn't know how to nail himself down enough to do a solo show. This is why he is such a good guest rapper on other people albums, but suffers from an insipid identity on his own. He is not bad just indistinct.
You can smell some of the same ol' soul food cooking on "Take 'Em to the Cleaners" that was so potent on "College Dropout." But Quence's slice tastes a little cold and refrigerated compared to the crispy chickeness of Kanye's charisma. "Take'em to the Cleaners" is merited by its harmony of soft, slurry vocals and shy-fly music vibes. And it has a lot of mid-level, feel good jams, but not a lot of weight, and not a lot of appeal. Consequence just doesn't have a domineering enough voice or persona to stand out on his own as a solo artist. In the end, Consequence will make a valuable addition to the Kon Man crew, but "Take'em to the Cleaners" won't make a valued addition to your CD stand.
Music Vibes: 6 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 6 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 6 of 10
Originally posted: June 8, 2004