Some rappers, it seems, are quite happy with their mixtaper status. Not so Jae Millz. He views his latest as a way to kill time while everybody is waiting for what he calls the “most anticipated album of the decade,” “Back to tha Future,” due to drop later this summer. Those of you who’ve heard last year’s “2005 Is Mine” mixtape will experience a déjà-vu, because the situation didn’t present itself much differently back then. The companies that keep Millz and his fans waiting are Steve Rifkind’s Street Records Corporation and Universal, who signed him after the terminated deal with Warner. Since 2005 wasn’t really his, Millz insists that we call him “Mister ’06,” but he’s learned to be vague about release dates, merely suggesting that “Back to tha Future” is “comin’ sooner than you think.”

While everything about “Last of the Best” indicates that it’s time for a proper Jae Millz album, there’s room for venting mixtape style. Check “Heard ‘Em Say”:

“These labels been robbin’ me
I’m hungry, can’t they see they been starvin’ me?
I can’t go back to workin’ a nine to five
Yeah, it’s a grind, but nigga, that grind ain’t mine
and on top of that I’m workin’ a nine to nine
Around the clock I get props for line after line
I try to tell ’em that I’m the sickest time after time
These niggas lyin’, be for real, who rhymin’ like I’m?”

“Last of the Best” is, how could it not be, one long shameless sales pitch. And not a particularly convincing one. “I use the mixtape circuit just to pop shit,” the Harlemite confesses, and he does so with lines like “Now I’m a Universal nigga, homie, I’m gettin’ Universal scrilla / I’m ’bout to say fuck rap and go and do a Universal picture.” But first, we’d really like to hear that album. Bottomline, the Jae Millz of “Last of the Best” isn’t nearly as focused as someone who has yet to make a name for himself. Only on the Amadeus-produced “Apple on My Back” does he spit for old time’s sake:

“They said I been missin’ in action, so I’m back in
the same mode I was spittin’ my raps in, back when
I was just a mixtape artist out of Manhattan
tryina get a deal, or get a buzz or somethin’ crackin'”

But really he’s been there and done that, and it’s time to take it to the next stage:

“I gotta bring my city back for the top
I gotta bring the thing back to the block
I gotta bring the knock back for the drops, for the engines
the Lex Coupes, Beamers and the Benzes
They say New York ain’t shinin’ no more
I’m like nah, cats just ain’t grindin’ no more”

Jae Millz is a product of the mixtape circuit, and as such has experienced first hand how executives are “sittin’ up at these desks just playin’ with cats’ lives.” Here’s hoping that he won’t be forever known as the guy Diddy pitted E. Ness against on _Making Da Band_, that he won’t remain one of the countless mixtape artists boasting how they’re about their B.I. and how they have the streets locked but never release a studio album.

Until then, there’s “Last of the Best,” the usual showcase whose lower fee compensates for inferior sound quality and incorrect tracklisting. You get the Ron Browz-produced “Bring it Back” (both the original with Jada and the remix with Fabo and Weezy), you get Remy’s “Conceited” remix, the _Natural Born Killers_-like “What U Wanna Do,” where Jae and Remy discuss their respective urge to “smack a bitch,” “baseball-bat a bitch” or “smack a nigga,” “Tec-9 or Mac a nigga.” There’s the (already) token stop-snitching track (“Testify” with shout-outs to Mysonne and Lil’ Kim), a preview of the Scott-Storch-produced “My Swag,” a couple of slightly more inspired on-air performances, a “Lil Ghetto Boy” version and the promising narrative “Tha God Father.”

Is Jae Millz really “a remix of Doug E. Fresh and KRS” like he claims? That’s a definite no. By the look of this mixtape, only nuances set the rapper who claims he’s “been givin’ true New Yorkers hits for damn near a decade like Bernie Williams” apart from the rest, such as the fact that he talks about rapping quite often and isn’t trying to create the illusion of being a drug dealer. But obviously he can and will get his hustle on, quipping on “Can’t Nobody,” “If I ain’t hustlin’ every day, what you call that?” Hopefully, the hustle will soon pay off.

DJ E.NYCE :: Jae Millz: Last of the Best