For somebody who’s been rapping at least since 1996, on Tribe Called Quest’s “Beats, Rhymes, and Life,” it’s stunning that Consequence has only now released his debut album. When considering the talent that Consequence has, it’s almost tragic. Consequence has talent in excess, and even though it may be late in coming, “Don’t Quit Your Day Job!” is a fitting beginning to what should be a great career.

Released by Kanye West’s G.O.O.D. Music label, this record bears his stamp all over it. Although he only produces three tracks, and raps on two, this album’s laid back sound presents a skewed mirror of West’s “Late Registration.” Consequence stays true to his own style, but it is similar to Kanye’s in almost every respect. While it’s basic aesthetic is nearly the same, “Don’t Quit Your Day Job!” lacks the raw superstar power of “Late Registration,” much like Consequence isn’t as personable or marketable as Kanye.

While he may lack those strengths, Consequence has plenty of his own to spare. The production here is faster, more exciting than Kanye’s has been as of late, and Consequence’s flow and delivery is much sharper. Consequence is supremely comfortable over these beats, which remain consistent throughout the album. Over the synthetic, bouncing sounds of “Job Sound” Consequence establishes his cool, quick flow, which is enhanced by his humble, in-the-struggle approach.

“How’d I get stuck in a dead end job when I can rap?
But of course my bill collectors, they ain’t trying to hear that
Matter fact, they askin Dexter when I plan to pay back
On that long line of credit that they lent me way back
At the turn of the century, the notice they sent to me
Is saying essentially, if I don’t pay that balance off along with an extra fee
Penitentiary and criminal charges 
Are prolly soon to follow, if you dare disregard this
And that got me nautious, and feeling precautious
Cause the fruits of my labor, ain’t bearing no harvest
At least as an artist…”

While Consequence will most likely be seen as operating in Kanye’s or the Tribe’s massive shadows, this strength of this album lies in his own individuality. Consequence is an excellent rapper, his flow speaks to years of practice, and his topic choice is incredibly genuine through most of the album, easily denying the posturing that most rappers become obsessed with. The production is also top-notch. It’s not as loud or overwhelming as what most rap listeners may be used to, but it’s subtly pleasant and relaxing, not to mention being incredibly consistent.

And Consequence wraps his voice around these easy, grooving beats effortlessly. Whether over Kanye’s instantly catchy “Don’t Forget Em” or the faster groove of “Uptown,” Consequence is at home here, even crafting his own hooks, which are generally extremely catchy and add to the atmosphere. More than just a vocalist, though, he’s a very good lyricist. He tackles thematic songs like “The Good, The Bad, The Ugly” with the same relentlessness as the swaggering “Night Night,” the latter reminding anybody who doubts him that even though he may seem cool, he’ll still knock you out:

When I’m on the block, I overhear the sneaky type
Sayin “Fuck ‘Quence” ’cause that nigga prolly think he nice
But they gon’ pay a price for their frontin and the snide talk
When I catch ’em slippin like there’s ice on the side walk
It ain’t my fault that I was blessed with a two piece
While you was getting priced for your new pice
You should know the rules, any time you discuss I
You’d be better off just go getting some shuteye
Or you’ll get a shut eye
Cause I be putting heads to bed
And we be rollin twenty deep, when we head to bed
So get some good night rest
Cause ain’t no telling when the ‘hood might press”

While the consistency of “Don’t Quit Your Day Job!” is impressive, it also worsens the straight-through listen. It does unify the album, making it a fifty-minute session in tight flows and nice, laid back beats, but at the same time, it numbs the brain around “Feel This Way,” the eighth track, which features a nice appearance from John Legend. Not that it loses much steam, but neither the production nor Consequence stray outside of their comfort zone. They both stay in their safe area, and never stretching their boundaries. Ultimately, “Don’t Quit Your Day Job!” loses the excitement that it brings in the beginning of the album by failing to experiment, especially towards the end.

Also, even though it’s kept to a short 50-minute time span, “Don’t Quit Your Day Job!” would have benefited from being even shorter. Keeping the same sound can work, but only in shorter doses. Eliminating some of the weaker tracks, like the awkward first single “Callin Me,” would have dramatically changed the album. Instead of leaving the listener begging for more, it leaves one slightly tired of the album and its sound.

Its shortcomings aside, “Don’t Quit Your Day Job!” still stands out for its extremely strong moments, and the fact that rap albums that are this mellow, and yet subtly exciting are almost a lost art in 2007. It’s cliché, but comparisons to Tribe Called Quest are almost inevitable, though the synthetic grooves here are a contrast to their more jazz-focused sound. It’s ironic for an album that is so distinguished from popular music that it is most effectively described by its comparisons to other music, but the quality of those comparisons is indicative of how good of an album this is.

“Don’t Quit Your Day Job!” won’t blow you away, nor will is it likely to make you dance. But it’s a soulfully smooth album that both hip hop heads and casual fans can enjoy, with a great replay value. Where many rappers overextend themselves trying to appeal to different fan bases, Consequence stays squarely within the easy grooves he’s mastered. “Don’t Quit Your Day Job!” is easy to recommend to a fan of any genre; it’s guaranteed to be one of the most enjoyable hip hop albums of 2007.

Consequence :: Don't Quit Your Day Job!
8.5Overall Score