Being a music critic can actually feel like a burden sometimes. Honestly, there are times when I get bitter about having to listen to wack music when my time could be spent more productively. But then every now and then, an album comes along that puts things in perspective. Usually it comes in the form of a dope album that I probably would have never gotten around to peeping otherwise, but sometimes it's an album so bad that it makes me realize how much worse things could be. "How The Q-West Was One" is such an album. The quality of this CD is so bad that I usually would refuse to review it, but having wasted 50 minutes of my life on this I see it as my duty to save others from a similar trap.
The premise of this album is the pairing of Q-York artist Knowa Lazarus, from Queens I believe, with West coast DJ, Lady Tribe. On the album Lady Tribe actually attempts to rhyme, but it would be a disgrace to actually refer to her as a rapper. Knowa and Q-York are relatively unknowns in the industry while Lady Tribe claims to be somewhat of a celebrity. Further research shows that Knowa and Q-York, though very ambitious, have yet to create a stir in the industry. Lady Tribe on the other hand seems to actually back up her claim as she is getting buzz as a "DJ" on the west coast. Of course all this buzz is relative, as it is probably mostly due to the fact she wears close to nothing and runs some sort of smut website in conjunction with her "DJ" ventures. From the start it seemed the album wouldn't be very good, but rather than pre-judge anyone for being independent and/or trying to use sex to sell I gave this a try.
There is very little good on this album. Knowa Lazarus is a very generic emcee as far as flow, lyrics, and topic matter goes. He does get a little political sometimes, but he fails to do anything that can't be found on your average mixtape. The producers on this album are also very mediocre, producing nothing fresh, instead copying almost every market cliché, from bland R&B attempts to the mandatory reggaeton track. With that said, taken by themselves, Knowa and the producers on this album are not a lost cause. They are mediocre, and they do stick to copying what everyone else is doing, but they could definitely improve and show enough basic talent to build upon. Had this album been comprised entirely of Knowa and the Q-York producers it would still be sub par, but it wouldn't be unbearable. What makes this album so bad is the inclusion of Lady Tribe.
Lady Tribe has not one redeeming quality as an emcee. She actually brings the album down from subpar to absolutely horrendous. I couldn't finish one track on this album because of her. She has the most grating and horrible voice I have ever heard from any rapper. I think she's trying to go for the stereotypical "sexy" female voice, but her high pitched shrill sounds like that of a 12 year old girl with a lisp. On top of that she has no flow whatsoever. Her rhymes consist mostly of the pairing of simple sentences about how sexy she is or sex or… well that's about it actually. Her sentences are so simple they could be made to fit almost any beat. Imagine those times you humored your friend, or girlfriend, or cute girl you were trying to impress, who, after they found out you rapped, or DJed, or produced, attempted to be cute by "freestyling" some simple dribble. Well the guys at Q-York seemed to be trying to please Lady Tribe so much that they not only humored her wack shit, they recorded a whole album of it. Her lyrics only further condemn her to mediocrity as she mostly focuses on sex. Gems she spits include "you're the reason my skirt is so short" and the hilarious "if you want to love me, you gotta love my mind." Her constant focus on sex makes "The Abortion Song" seem almost like a mockery as her and Knowa try to get deep. The song is about a father, mother, and "son" and the feelings each would feel during an abortion. It's actually a deep concept, though not thoroughly original, but the execution is ruined by Lady Tribe. As the mother of the scenario, Tribe is thoroughly confused as to why things didn't work out between her and her man and apologizes to the soon to be dead fetus. Having not been in such a situation myself I can't call it, but I think if Lady Tribe put on some clothes, stopped trying to sell sex so much, and grew a mind to "love" along with her body she'd be in a much better position to be taken seriously when addressing such topics. And in case Tribe is actually genuinely confused as to why people end up in situations where abortion comes into play, it's usually the sex, immaturity and irresponsibility also play a large role most of the time, but the sex is usually step one.
My advice to Knowa, Q-York, and all other artists involved is to try again, but this time without Lady Tribe. Her hip-hop credentials seem to be as fake as her breasts, and even so, credentials alone wouldn't be enough for anyone to stomach her wack rhymes. As far as Lady Tribe goes, I haven't heard her DJ or seen any of her Graf work so I won't judge her there, but if I were her I'd stay away from rap or any other medium where she can't be constantly flashing her ass and tits to try and maintain people's attention.
Music Vibes: 1 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 1 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 1 of 10
Originally posted: November 1, 2005