While the true aficionado needs no introduction to JT and Young Noble, the average Hip-Hop fan my need some background info to fully grasp the potential involved. Though you may not recognize his name, you are sure to have heard Young Noble before as part of 2pac's Outlawz. Their mainstream appeal may have died down as of late, but for legions of ‘Pac fans they remain as the few rappers who can uphold his legacy without being called impersonators. JT on the other hand has probably gained the most exposure as the man who first signed the highly overrated emcee The Game. And though close-minded mainstream fans will likely only remember him as the opportunistic business-man portrayed by an ungrateful Game, those in the know recognize him for the skilled and slept-on emcee he is. At first glance this pairing may seem like another independent compilation to some, but for fans who delve beneath the surface this is actually a tantalizing combination.
The name "Street Warz" may sound familiar to mixtape fans who recognize P-Cutta's lengthy tape series addressing beef, but by all appearances the name seems to be only a coincidence. The title track gets things started right as Young Noble borrows the chorus from 2pac's "Life of an Outlaw" to start things off and even uses a similar beat for the track. It is easily one of the albums best tracks as Young Noble and JT drop solid verses and the song invokes the Outlaw's credo well. The second track is actually a very good track but feels out of place on this album. Produced by DJ Premier and featuring Nas, Nature, and 50 Cent "Too Hot" is a good song, but it is the polar opposite of anything else found on this album. Though the track was likely added to attract more potential consumers, it would have probably been better suited for another release.
"Lock Down" features the Outlawz and Bay Area boss Yukmouth, but suffers from a beat that doesn't fit their styles well. Quimmy Quim's fast-paced string arrangement isn't bad on its own merits, but the MCs do not sound good over it. "First Things First" returns the compilation to its Bay Area feel with a pounding beat from Track Addict and Young Noble and JT at their story-telling best. "Other Side of the Game Pt. 2" immediately draws the listeners attention and one glance at the credits show why, it's produced by highly talented producer Sean T. JT and San Quinn shine over Sean T's funky and playful beat. Sean T also lends his skill to "Feddy Edd" but fails to make magic with a cliché horn-driven track and the lackluster lyrics delivered by JT, Reddy Redd, and D-Moe. Quimmy Quim delivers better performances on "Smack Yo Self," "Get Money," and "Neva Been Done." "Neva Been Done" features a catchy beat but a HORRIBLE MC. Baby Girl is a 10-year old MC that has no business being on the mic and especially no business on a JT and Outlawz collaboration album. "Live My Life" is a decent effort both musically and lyrically as Reefologist comes through on the boards and the Jerzey Mob rides the beat well. "Part of Life" and "Lights Out" are produced by Outlaw member EDI and feature generic production that detract from the lyrics. "The Main Event" is a West Coast "Symphony" as it features over 8 emcees dropping verses over Track Addict's simple production, it's interesting but not stellar.
Overall "Street Warz" barely manages to be average both musically and lyrically. Only a select amount of tracks feature good production while the rest seem content in mimicking simple West Coast music. Lyrically, Young Noble is nothing special and his harsh delivery also fails to grab the listener's attention. The true star is JT who shows why his Get Low imprint is highly respected on the West Coast. Guest emcees also outshine Young Noble constantly as San Quinn, C-Bo, and Daz Dillinger show up to steal the show. Sadly, though the Outlawz came from a highly talented legacy they are the equivalent of Biggie's Junior Mafia, average emcees with a superstar leader. The potential of a JT and Outlawz collaboration was great, but in the end JT carries a sub-par effort and only manages to save the album from complete mediocrity. "Street Warz" isn't worth your purchase, especially considering the vast amount of superior work being released in the Bay.
Music Vibes: 5 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 5 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 5 of 10
Originally posted: March 1, 2005