Skinny Corleone :: Tha House of Representativez :: 48th-49th Recordz/Ruff Rhyme Records
as reviewed by Matt Barone

Independently released albums come a dime a dozen, all being crafted in hopes of reaching larger audiences outside of their respective zip codes. Many successful groups have benefited from grinding on their own, with a prime example being Wu-Tang Clan, who notoriously sold their "Method Man" 12-inch vinyl out of the trunks of their cars. Achievement as grand as that of Shaolin's finest is unfortunately in the minority here, with most of these albums never seeing the light of day. Hoping to make noise within the industry, Skinny Corleone has acted on his entrepreneurial spirit by gathering a gang of unsigned talent and forming "Tha House of Representativez."

With its clientele hailing from the streets of Washington D.C., Maryland, and Virginia, this compilation sports a diverse lineup that proves to be both an advantage and an ailment for the overall enjoyment of this disc. Matloc opens up nicely on "The Letter," coasting over producers Juan Donovan and Jamal Slo Moi's impressive blend of violins and female crooning. Matloc shines with bars like:

"The story's the same, the glory and fame, you want it
caught in them games with them hundreds
only kept you blunted and drunker with liquor
Hustling with snitches puffing with ya
roughing it with ya
but you not knowing they out to get ya"

Baltimore is represented to the fullest by I, Adonna Black and Rucka on "Young Gunz," while D.C. native Slyck contributes two notable selections, "Intro/The Takeover" and "Me & My Territory." Spastic guitar chords and bass lines courtesy of Mikestiff turn Soultrojanz' "T.R.O. Again" into a banger, and lady rapper Ruin gets militant on the thumping "Let Me Find Out."

Skinny Corleone has an ear for talent, which is displayed on this album in many spots. Unfortunately, there are a significant number of audio misfires that inspire Skip button usage due to weak production and bland verses. Byno Buck is given two chances to impress on "It Ain't A Game" and "1 Verse" but fails on both accounts, and Multiple Man's exaggerated drawl turns "NE-NW-SE-SW" into an irritating mess. Elsewhere, the beats heard on "Executioner's Song" and "Hot Pursuit" sound like Casio keyboard rejects, and "Fuck Da Copz" is a poorly executed attempt at calling out crooked police officers that starts off promising but quickly loses steam.

In the end, "Tha House of Representativez" is a minor triumph for Skinny Corleone and his crew of hungry newcomers. Potential is scattered amongst Minor League rap music, a common problem with independent releases. First impressions are the most important, and as an introduction to the world, this album should please some ears but may get the cold shoulder more times than not. Next time around, let's hope Skinny Corleone utilizes talents like Slyck, Matloc and Ruin more, as they are worthy of further attention.

Music Vibes: 5 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 6 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 5.5 of 10

Originally posted: July 6, 2004