As a consumer I have mixed feelings about the recent trend of mixtapes showing up in full jewel cases on the shelves of national stores. One the one hand the increased exposure and accessibility to mixtapes is a plus, as is the increased quality in audio most of those mixtapes showcase. On the other hand, the price charged is the same one would pay for a regular CD. For the most part, the effort and musical quality contained in a mixtape never comes close to that of a full length album. Sheek Louch’s “Year of the Wolf” manages to maintain a healthy balance between the pros and cons of this phenomenon by delivering a mixtape that still leaves listeners wanting to cop the full length but contains enough good music so they won’t feel ripped off.

Originally released as somewhat of a teaser before his “After Taxes” album dropped last November, the retail version of the mixtape actually shows up late with a 2006 release date. But even if nationwide fans are likely to listen to the mixtape after the album, they’ll find more than a few gems from Sheek. Consisting of mostly freestyle type tracks, Sheek’s game isn’t in top form here. On “Ask About Me” Louch is as menacing as ever but delivers little in the form of dope lines:

“Aiyyo let’s get it, shades and a fitted
Scar from the mouth, no ID
Vest so I don’t need no IV (uh-uh)
Who I be? Feel me, ain’t that important
Muh’fucker just put ’em in the air like Jordan (shit’s up)
Top of the mornin, pumpin his mouth while he yawnin
Homey ain’t rap too tight
Momma think I’m a good Baptist right?
She don’t know about the hoes that I got on tape
In case one of these bitches wan’ yell out rape
She don’t know about our first bricks
Me P and Kiss, did half weight, other half mix (let’s get it niggaz)
The white chicks, sniffin coke off each other lil’ pink tits
{*laughter*} The gun play
The Desert that I keep in the car ‘fore I see you on Sunday (whattup ma)
Niggaz that I left dead
The veins that I cut to stop the blood from goin to your head
They say I’m fucked up, shut the fuck up!
Before your ass gets stuck up, fuck it
I’m too hard homey; first day in the yard homey
You get scarred homey – feel me?
No security, no fear in me
I get it on no matter where I be
Shit, gun smoke ’til it’s cloudy
I’m a thug, ask about me”

Even when Sheek has the added motivation of throwing subliminal darts at rival rappers, he still favors the street element in his lyrics heavily:

“I’m Sheek Louch dawg, fuck album sales
Talk about me say that nigga hard as nails
Fuck a brick, lil’ black electrical scales
Better rethink it, and let the shit die
Cause my niggaz comin hard I ain’t gon’ lie”

Despite it being painfully obvious that Sheek saved his best for the album there are still a few tracks worth mentioning. “Body Blows” is dope, though the beat makes the track as Sheek raps over the Geto Boys “Yes Yes Y’all.” “Clickety Clank” is a viscious diss towards rivals G-Unit and 50 Cent that D-Block fans are sure to love. “Way of the World” doesn’t feature a jacked beat or diss, but finds Sheek at his best spitting a dark and brutal street tale.

Overall, “Year of the Wolf” is a decent mixtape from The Lox’s often overlooked third member. Sheek’s lyrical game could be better, but with hard core beats and plenty of disses to go around, fans will not be disappointed. It should be noted that on the retail version of the mixtape Sheek’s lead single “Kiss Your Ass Goodbye” was omitted. Either the label didn’t clear it or Sheek really wanted fans to cop the album too.

Sheek Louch :: Year of the Wolf
6.5Overall Score