As far as mixtapes which showcase the talents of various label-mates go, Seattle Rain's "The Storm" is not much different from the norm—the tracks are disparate and there are a handful of emcees rapping over fairly pedestrian beats. That's really not much of a surprise though; even the best mixtape compilations are usually just a handful of filler tracks buoyed by a few hot cuts.
In such a mish-mash of sounds and voices, it becomes even that much harder for one emcee or one beat to stand out against the rest. The one flow that seems a little extra tight, the one punch line that makes a listener rewind the cd back, or the one beat that makes someone flip through the liner notes to see who produced it can make all the difference for a career.
There are a few of those moments on "The Storm." Pop's Mystikal-esque, gruff voice on "Lover Letter" is very catchy in its own right, and Arcturus brings some lyrical heat and an impressive flows on the battle track "Keep the ‘Ro Out Your Mouth." The latter showcases some humorous zingers that would make Ludacris or Skillz proud. The sharp orchestral stabs of "My Niggaz," and laid back funk of "Pimp Within" probably stand out as the best beats on an album sorely lacking in the aural department.
"The Storm" is peppered with appearances by relatively young artists who, by their own admission in their bio, are "rookies." Unfortunately, their relative inexperience rears itself pretty egregiously in some spots. Topically, this compilation is as generic and cliché as one can get—some of the embarrassingly farcical song titles include "Keep The ‘Ro Out Your Mouth," "Payin' Dues," "Thug Support," "Murder Factory," "My Niggaz," and "Pimp Within." That's not to say that the self-righteous or over-used "conscious" label should be the angle this group (or any other up-and-comers) comes from, because it too, has become a caricature of its former self. However, if you're going to come this mundane topically, you better back it up with some serious beats or mic skills (see Ludacris), and "The Storm" generally fails on both levels—save for a few glimpses of potential.
There's no doubt that there's a fair measure of potential in these guys, now they just have to take the next step from compilation/showcase mediocrity to consistently putting out strong product.
Music Vibes: 4 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 6 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 5 of 10
Originally posted: June 8, 2004