Beanie Sigel :: The B. Coming :: Roc-A-Fella Records
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

Loyal readers, please help me figure this one out. Knowing that Dwight Grant b/k/a Beanie Sigel to his fans around the world has been in some legal trouble, I decided to check around online before writing this review to see what his current status is. I stumbled across this entry on the AllMusic website: "Preparing for jail, Sigel went into high gear and completed a movie, an album, and five videos to support the new album. The album hit shelves in March of 2005 while the movie 'State Property 2' was released in April." Wait a minute - WAS, as in past tense? And in April? Last time I looked at the calendar it was March 29th. I guess Michael Erlewine has a time machine he's not sharing with the rest of us, since things that have yet to happen in my life are past history over in Ann Arbor. Maybe he can loan it to me so I can go back in time to stop Vanilla Ice from ever releasing any records. At least let me skip ahead a few weeks and get some sport results so I can come back and make a mint betting on them.

Frivolous BS aside, it's clear that Mr. Grant decided to get his hustle on as best he could before being sent up on a long bid. It remains to be seen if he'll try to smuggle out any handwritten lyrics inside the hollows of a pen or record any raps for a new album over the day phone, but for now it's all about what Beanie is "B. Coming" with his new album. It's rather ironic too given that he started out as one of the Roc's less important artists on "The Truth" and worked his way up to being a fairly major player on "The Reason." Just as his musical career seemed ready to peak, his criminal side put it by the wayside. Sigel doesn't seem to be an ignorant man - in fact his lyrics if anything have become more creative, more personal, and more interesting over time; and clearly he wouldn't have signed with anybody else but Roc-A-Fella knowing he could best profit from his rap hustle with Jay-Z at his side. So he's far from stupid, and yet because of some stupid shit (c'mon, who tosses a loaded handgun out the window of a car in a police chase and expects not to get caught) he may be gone longer than Shyne. Maybe the 4th dimension isn't as linear as we thought after all. To AllMusic the present is already the past, but in Beanie Sigel's case his past seems to have caught up to the present day, his hustler ways now being his undoing instead of his becoming.

Sigel can "Feel it in the Air" on his first single, so much so that his "Spidey senses is tingling." The title is somewhat deceptive as the sample that makes up the track is not the Phil Collins classic you would expect but rather a song performed by Raphael Ravenscroft. It's even more surprising to note that Heavy D produced this song, a rapper who has been conspicuous by his absence from the game since "Heavy" in June of 1999. He may not feel like rapping any more but on the musical side he's as smooth as silk. With demons swirling around him and his life in turmoil, Sigel poignantly articulates his feelings:

"Still hear that voice in the back of my mind
So what I do, I still take heed, I still listen
I still paint that perfect picture
I still shine bright like a prism
My words still skippin - through air
I know you can't don't won't get it
You niggaz chose to ride that shit, sault with it
I'm still afloat
I ain't the captain of the yacht but I'm on the boat
I ain't actin what I'm not knowin that I don't
You niggaz actin like you will but I know you won't
I read between the lines of the eyes of ya brows
Your handshake ain't matchin your smile"

With no pun intended, that may be a little heavy for his crossover audience. Not to worry though, Sigel has loaded up his album with more guests than you can shake a stick at (who shakes sticks at things anyway, I know I don't). Redman drops in for a "One Shot Deal." Peedi and Twista rap on "Gotta Have It" but again if you expected the obvious sample (Ed O.G.) you'll be surprised by this cut. "Purple Rain" features U.G.K. don Bun B, "Bread & Butter" features Grand Puba and Sadat X, and both Jay-Z and Cam'Ron get down on the bonus tracks "It's On" and "Wanted" respectively. The one that will probably get him the most spins though is "Don't Stop" featuring Snoop Dogg:

"I said I'm sicka than your average
Keep three shooters like the Mavericks
Short to the point like Nash is, fuckin wit a savage
Niggaz press they luck, get plucked like ashes
Three piece suits, linen fabrics
Three quarter croc, sharper than a pastor
B Sig bring the light to the masses
of these rap bastards, who gey street passes
One shootin can lead to three caskets
Jump suits, state boots, at least three stabbings
You softer than a Reebok Classic
Foldin under pressure when confronted by them badges
I was taught stay low and keep blastin
Po only know questions that was answered
Keep a number on the high price lawyer
It's five ways nowadays, everybody saw ya"

The beat is trademark Neptunes (you'll know it from the moment you hear it) and Snoop's appearance on the chorus gives it that extra swing to be a chart topper. Presumably this one is among the five music videos Sigel already shot and put in the can before going away. And as going away records go, this one is pretty damn strong. From the super smooth "I Can't Go on This Way" to the pimped out "Oh Daddy" to the hard as nails "Flatline," Beanie is making sure to cover all the bases before he comes back home. The one thing all three of the aforementioned tracks have in common is guest appearances, including two by Young Chris. That's really the biggest flaw of "The B. Coming." Sigel is qualified enough as an artist to hold down an album on his own, but one gets the sense he didn't want to take any chances this record wouldn't sell and had to make sure there was one cameo for everyone. Other than the West coast and Canadian North, he damn near covers all the bases. It's a shame that it's been four years since his last album, and that it may be another four or more until his next. Sigel has something to say, he just doesn't have the time to say it or enough of the 65 minutes of his own album to do it with. Philly will be waiting for his return though, as will the rest of hip-hop.

Music Vibes: 7.5 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 7.5 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 7.5 of 10

Originally posted: March 29, 2005