Maino :: Brooklyn's Future :: Hustle Hard Entertainment
as reviewed by Matt Barone

Living up to the title of "Brooklyn's Future" is a task that brings with it much speculation and doubt, making it inevitable that unsigned newcomer Maino will receive both after billing himself to be the heir to the throne graced by Notorious B.I.G. and Jay-Z. Confidence is something that Maino possesses in bulk, though, and he uses his new mixtape, Hustle Hard Ent. Presents Maino: Brooklyn's Future, to show off his brand of street talk. Produced by fellow rookie GQ Beatz, Brooklyn's Future is a chance for new talent to offer their best material in hopes of attracting major label suitors, and after 15 tracks, it proves to be successful in this mission.

Made up of freestyles and exclusive songs, Brooklyn's Future allows our host to flex his battle rapping skills, female-targeted game, and basic ego- boosting tactics. While he isn't bringing anything too groundbreaking to the table, he is very capable of entertaining consistently, with a few tracks executed with the precision of a veteran, rather than rookie. "Tear The Club Down" meshes Southern-crunk energy with Northern-bred lyrical swagger, resulting in a rowdy club-crasher that, if given visual treatment, would fit perfectly in MTV's video rotation alongside Lil Jon and his army of hit singles. "I Am the Future" changes the mood up with its gritty bars backed by chopped-up horns, while the brutally honest "The Diary" proves to be Maino's strongest offering, hypnotizing with a haunting soundtrack for Maino to commentate on the darker side of urban survival:

"Nothing in the world feels worse than having a man that fakes you
Never thought in your life your man would snake you
Til bread started coming and he's ungrateful
Now he's the one coming back to try and save you
Flashback to when y'all used to get your thug on
You and him against the world with gloves on
Shit change when the cops come and press on
Look around, only you got cuffs on"

"All Eyes on Me" finds Maino riding the instrumental from 2Pac's song of the same name, while "Reservoir Dogs" damages speakers with Maino, Joe Budden, Paul Cain, and Stack Bundles punishing the beat used by Benzino and the Untouchables on their past single "Untouchables." "Broken Language 2004" is Maino's update of the street classic by Smoothe Da Hustler and Trigger the Gambler, showing that he is aware of his borough's underground history.

"Brooklyn's Future" isn't without its flaws, however. "Pimpin' Ain't Easy" suffers from tired misogyny and a beat that sounds extremely generic, and " Calling All Girls" is an unnecessary attempt at catching some R&B shine, as Maino adds a run-of-the-mill verse to the semi-hit by young crooners ATL. "Brooklyn's Future" is a mixtape, so slight mishaps like these are excusable, but if this were his true debut, then Maino would have been poorly advised to include such cookie-cutter fare.

There are an enormous number of new MCs breaking down the industry's door, using mixtapes as their means of exposure. Maino falls into this category, but possesses enough ability to separate himself as a rapper to watch in the months to come. With a few more mixtapes under his belt, the majors should be calling, so time will tell if Maino truly is "Brooklyn's Future." At this stage of the game, though, he does have the potential to reign supreme over the legendary land of BK.

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

Originally posted: July 27, 2004