Celly Cel has been around for more than minute. Originally a part of E-40's Sick Wid It label, he was part of Jive's onslaught of gangsta rap in the early nineties. He reached some commercial success with his album "Killa Kali" and the single "It'z Goin' Down." Though "Get It Crackin" garnered some buzz off his album "The G Filez," since then Celly has remained a relatively underground artist. Though "It'z Real Out Here" does contain a few quality songs and Celly stays true to his style, ultimately it's an album that only hardcore Celly fans could appreciate from start to finish.
Musically, the production ranges from generic bass-heavy West Coast production, to trunk-knocking jams of the same genre. It's really hit or miss, with a few more hits than misses. The highlights include an odd assortment of tracks. The drums on "WhatuGonaDo?" are jacked straight from The Neptune's "Grindin," but oddly enough when they are coupled with a tight vocal sample the track takes on a life of its own and ends up being one of the album's best. The sharp synth loop and strings on "No Tommorow" do a great job to set a somber mood, especially after they are coupled with the track's smooth R & B hook. The bounce-inspired production on "Scrape Wit Me" actually works, as both Celly and Juvenile ride the fast-paced production well. The old-school inspired "D-Boyz" also works for both Celly and E-40. "Real Ni**az" features classic West Coast production with a fat bass line playing center stage. The only outright bad tracks on the album are "Thugged Out" which features uninspired synths and "Who Iz That?" "Who Iz That?" actually jacks the bassline from Lil Jon's "Bia Bia" with a few small alterations, it doesn't sound anywhere near as good as the original and doesn't fit Celly's style. "When I Ride" is a West Coast take of Swizz Beat's "World War III" but does little to differentiate it from the much better original.
Lyrically is where the album becomes a very acquired taste. Overall Celly Cel hasn't changed his style much since "Killa Kali," so the question you must ask yourself is whether Celly's raw gangsta rap is for you. Though he's not a bad rapper, Celly is not the world's most original or engaging rapper. His simple approach to the mic works well on certain tracks, like "WhatuGoneDo?," "Scrape Wit Me," and "D-Boyz" but sounds painfully simplistic on tracks like "Thugged Out" and "Seniorita." He gets outshined lyrically and flow-wise by almost every guest on the album. Juvenile's syrupy smooth flow on "Scrape Wit Me" is a good example of it, though Celly holds his own. E-40's lingual acrobatics on "D-Boyz" also highlight the fact that Celly isn't the world's best emcee. Topic-wise Celly never expands past what he considers to be real, in this case the streets, drugs, and women. The songs addressing the ladies tend to be the worst of the bunch.
Though it definitely has its down side, "It'z Real Out Here" still holds some value for the average rap fan. There are more than a handful of tracks, mostly the ones featuring guest appearances, that have a lot of replay value. These tracks are sure to be appreciated by any gangsta or Bay area rap fan. But Celly's style ultimately makes the album as a whole one which would be better appreciated by long-time fans. It's not necessarily bad, but compared to other Bay area rap released it's only an average album with a few bangers.
Music Vibes: 6 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 5 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 5.5 of 10
Originally posted: April 19, 2005