"East County Gamers II" is a very confusing project. On the one hand the double album features some of the best known names in Cali rap, from Crooked I to B-Legit, making the project seem at least somewhat professional. On the other hand, L-Love and the rest of the "East County Gamers" are some of the most amateurish rappers I've heard. There's no doubt L-Love is a true hustler and he's also cocky as all heck. His hustle skills are obvious by the fact that this is the second installment in the "East County Gamers" series and he has a third release planned already. While merely releasing albums isn't impressive in itself, the guest spots he's managed to get are. Aside from a worthy cast of supporting rappers, L-Love also has producers such as Soopafly and L.T. Hutton lending a hand. But all the hustle and cockiness in the world can't make up for the fact that L-Love has little to no skills on the mic or the MPC. Even fellow "East County Gamers" like Pola Bear barely manage to stumble through verses. L-Love's hustle is definitely commended, but if he wants to last in the rap game he'll need to step up his product.
"East County Gamers II" can easily be divided into two parts, songs featuring other more established acts and songs featuring only L-Love and his crew. The tracks that feature established acts are head and shoulders above anything put out by L-Love but they still fail to be anything but average. B-Legit appears on "Freak-Play" though the title gives you a good idea of the sex-driven dribble that the track amounts to. Even B-Legit's distinct voice and flow can't pull this track up. Usually solid Smoov-E cooks up an unimpressive verse for the Nocturnal Hustler's "Dirty Work." Coupled with the generic synthetic production, the track is mediocre. Even tracks featuring Bad Azz and Crooked I on the first disc of the compilation are nothing more than uninspired and stereotypical West coast gangsta anthems.
But despite the fact that every potentially dope track is nothing more than average, the compilation manages to get even worse when L-Love and his homies show up. L-Love Pola Bear probably hold down at least half, if not more of the album. This is a significant amount especially considering this is a double CD. Their performances reek of amateur and low budget tendencies. I tried not to judge this project upon seeing the cover art, consisting of a grainy and out of focus picture of L-Love throwing up a dub on a dining chair, but it seems my gut instincts were on point. Even the record label releasing this project hints at the inexperience as it's called At Home Records. Most of the beats L-Love and Pola Bear flow over consist of very simple loops with little depth. Some do sound decent, like the string driven "Cali Life," but they still fail to match up with what's found on professional releases. Pola Bear himself isn't too bad of a rapper, but his flow and lyrics are reminiscent of West coast rappers a good ten years ago. Back then it might have been considered dope, but today it sounds simple compared to acts like Xzibit, Snoop, and Mac Dre who all showed the West was about much more than identical gang experiences. But L-Love himself doesn't even manage to reach the level of stereotypical and average West coast rapper. His flow is almost childish as his simple lines still require him to pause in order to match his cadence from line to line. His lyrics range from stereotypical gangsta brags to metaphors and similes that might have been dope twenty years ago. He even has problems with pronunciation at times, likely due to his breath control, which makes it hard to hear him. Basically, L-Love still has a very long way to go before he can compete with even the most mediocre established emcee.
L-Love and the East County Gamers should be avoided at all costs unless you have some personal interest vested in either the Gamers themselves or East County. Better West coast rap can be found by the trunk full elsewhere. With time and development, the East County Gamers may be able to hone their craft, but for the time being they need to stay at home a bit longer before they try to push a legitimate album.
Music Vibes: 3 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 2 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 2.5 of 10
Originally posted: November 15, 2005