Do or Die :: D.O.D.
The Legion Records
Author: Steve 'Flash' Juon
"Ay Max Julien here, a.k.a. Goldie. I'm a little pissed right now.
To all you cockroaches and creatures out there, I'm gettin tired
of people tellin me about somebody else did this or somebody else
did this shit. Y'know I've been hearin from Snoop and Pimp and
all these other people back there y'know, talkin about y'know
Do or Die started this whole pimp thing on their records man.
They laid this shit out long time ago. It's time for y'all to lay
the credit out on the ground y'know, they the best around. I'm
just pissed man. I'm just fuckin tired of hearin it, y'know.
Come on y'all just, back up and give it up to 'em, okay?"
If Max Julien says it, then it must be true. After all who would
question the credibility of the man who arguably portrayed the best
pimp in the history of blaxploitation film, in the movie "The Mack"?
And Mr. Julien is certainly right about one thing - Do or Die
did a lot to push pimpin' on their records, dating all the way back
to their 1996 national debut "Picture This." The lead single and crossover smash on that
album was "Po Pimp," although at the time as a listener I felt it
blew up mostly because of the beat, Johnny P's crooning, and Twista's
phenomenal performance on the third verse. A.K., N.A.R.D. and Belo
have never impressed me that much lyrically. While the group's
Chi-Town attitude and penchant for quick tongue dexterity flipping
verbals has given them an identity to help set them apart from
the rap pack as a whole, their success to date (at least in my
eyes) has come largely from coming out each time with one or two
hot singles on an album full of mostly uninteresting tracks.
To Do or Die's credit, this might be the first time in their
history they've released an album that feels more like an excuse
to put another single on the charts. Although for the first
five tracks the album doesn't gain much momentum things get hot
once you reach "Higher," produced by and featuring Kanye West.
From that point on "D.O.D" strings together a whole bevy of
bumping tracks: "Magic Chick" featuring R. Kelly, "Nawty"
featuring Bounty Killer, "Paid the Price" featuring Kanye West,
and "If You Only Knew" featuring Syleena Johnson and Twista.
Not surprisingly though, all five of these songs have one
important thing in common - big name guest stars. In fact you'll
find throughout "D.O.D" that all of their best songs include
people other than the group's main members. "Be Alright"
features Ric Jilla and Johnny P. "Around Here" features Malik
Yusef. "Church" features DJ Quik and Johnny P, et cetera, etc.
It's rather perplexing to figure out what causes this to happen
from one Do or Die album to the next. At the end of the day,
one can only draw one of these two conclusions: either Do or Die
have such mediocre pimp personalities they can't turn in a top
performance on their own (everyone from Snoop to Suga Free has
them beat in spades), or they don't really put in a top effort
unless they're pushed to by sharing studio time with a top star.
Nothing has really changed for me with Do or Die. I still find
that they're tolerable enough vocally, and pick more than your
average amount of good beats, and on "D.O.D" in particular they've
come through with a nicely bumpable album. Lyrically though,
the trio just leaves me flat. You'll notice in this review there
are no lyric quotes from any individual members of the group,
and that's quite frankly because I just don't find any of their
verbiage to be either that clever or profound. It's functional,
and it keeps the songs flowing from verse to verse, so it's still
more than half the signed MC's and 4/5ths of the unsigned MC's
of the world can do.
In short, Do or Die's "D.O.D" is good
enough to be their best album to date, but it's probably about
as high as they'll ever reach, since I doubt they can get that
many hot beats and guest artists for EVERY album. One
more thing - I'll give them props for the bonus DVD with the
"Higher" video - that's a nice touch. "D.O.D." doesn't feel
like a few singles strung together by a bunch of filler, which
makes it an okay album, but the Chi has always had much better
rappers than Do or Die, and this album doesn't change that fact.
It's coppable though, and you will want to listen to it more
than once, though by the second or third listen you'll be
skipping the songs they do on their own. Trust me.
Music Vibes: 8 of 10
Lyric Vibes: 6 of 10
TOTAL Vibes: 7 of 10
Originally posted: February 1, 2005