So why would the average rap consumer out there be interested in an album by an unknown rap group named Federation? The fact "Rick Rock Presents" them is a selling point in itself for those in the know about the Bay Area. All you have to do is pick up the CD on the store shelf and read the back cover: "Produced by Rick Rock. All music played by Rick Rock." Besides the countless # of West coast explosions he has made for the likes of E-40, Mack 10, 2Pac and MC Eiht among others, he's also ventured to the East to lace artists like Jay-Z on "Change the Game" and Angie Martinez on "If I Could Go." Versatility is not a problem for Rick Rock, but when he does pop up in the mix there's an unquestionably strong bump to the beats no matter who he's lacing. You know a DJ Premier track by the jazz samples, tight layering, and scratched hooks when you hear it. You know a Pete Rock track by the dirty soul and the horny horns. You know a Kanye West track by the soul breaks and the sped up R&B singers. And when you hear a Rick Rock beat, you know it by the way it nods your head and rattles your trunk. Rick Rock's beats could either get a party started, or get the club shut down when everybody gets too CRUNK up in that muh'.
To be honest, this is also a handicap when it comes to the Federation. As good as they might be as rappers, I have a hard time paying attention to the game they spit when I'm too busy bouncing along to Rick Rock's tracks. On the 18 tracks of "Rick Rock Presents Federation - The Album" there's plenty of hotness to enjoy. "What is It" featuring El Dorado Red and "Hyphy" featuring E-40 are a very intense start to the presentation, although unintentionally on the latter I end up viewing it as an E-40 track featuring Federation instead of the other way around. I guess that's what happens when E-40 and Rick Rock go together on tracks like sharp cheddar on Ritz crackers. Things continue to bump like crazy throughout with Rick Rock coming correct on the Jigga-esque "You Might See Me," feel eeriely reminiscent of Fabolous' "Can't Deny It" at times on "You Don't Want It," get thumpishly gangster on "We Ride" featuring Daz and even get smoothed out on that R&B tip on "Ghetto Love Song" featuring Next Level. Damn, Next Level? I didn't even know they were still around. They do a nice job on this shit though. In fact this song is smoothed out enough that I can finally take a little notice of what the Federation is spitting on the beats. They seem aight lyrically - not overwhelmingly nice, but certainly not fucking up the game here at all:
"I told her I was taken, I was tryin to be faithful
But she was feelin lil' daddy, and said her nickname was Patty
Tried to leave her I said, get out the house I said
But that donkey kept talkin in that Ecko red
Didn't mean to cheat I said, tell them lies I said
But I couldn't resist her naked in that king sized bed
Sorry I was drunk on yo' last birthday
And we didn't share Christmas and Valentine's Day
And the beefs I caused I'm sorry, I didn't mean to break you
And when the fair came to town, I'm sorry I had to take you
I'm a changed man now, I don't get drunk no mo'
Okay I drink a lil' bit, but I don't throw up no mo'
No mo' hoodrat brizzles, with fo' baby daddies
Open up yo' heart girl, don't stay mad at me"
Honestly though, it's the beats I'm tripping on. Rick Rock just keeps making me smile time and time again, with songs like his P-Funk remake on "In Love With a Hoodrat," the braying (yes seriously) sounds of "Donkey," and the slow plodding beat of the triple-flick flowed "What if I Had a Gun" featuring Twista. By the time the album closes with the hard rocking guitar sounds of "Mayhem" it's not the Federation that I really noticed, it's Rick Rock's beats that I was jamming to. I feel bad for the Federation but I have to be honest - I probably would have enjoyed this album just as much if it was all instrumental. That's not to say that the Federation are whack at all. They around par for the West coast, maybe slightly above average, but not really on an E-40, Messy Marv, or Mac Dre (R.I.P.) level. When you're rapping over Rick Rock beats though, GOOD is good enough. "Rick Rock Presents the Federation" is perfect if you like your headphones vibrating and your trunk rattling - in other words, it's for fans of fat beats with HELLA bump to 'em.
Music Vibes: 8 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 6 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 7 of 10
Originally posted: February 8, 2005