The production of hip hop music heavily samples from other genres. This has been criticized by many music critics, and is the source of much of the music’s versatility, but it ultimately has no bearing on how skilled a rapper is. Even so, samples have been used many times to mask weak rappers and producers, to make creativity unnecessary in the process of making music. Mixtapes especially, allow a rapper to rap over songs that others have already made hits of. This is a double edged sword; it can allow good rappers to express their own vision over great music without being hindered by their financial situation, but it can also lead to the dulling of great music, a way for weak rappers to sound good over other people’s beats.

Mac & A.K., unfortunately, mostly fall into the latter category. Rhyming over hits like Snoop Dogg’s “That’s That,” Mac & A.K. all too often fall into laziness. Because of the beats, much of “Hood Legends” is very listenable, but many times, that is the only drawing factor. Their rhymes are limited by their limited topical scope; most of their subject dwell in the generic money, drugs, and hoes themes which hip hop is riddled with.

What makes it worse is that neither Mac nor A.K. are bad rappers, they actually can rhyme pretty well, but they don’t push themselves enough. Their best performances come when the beat is a departure from the typical southern-based beats that make up most of the CD. When rhyming over Game’s “Let’s Ride,” or Nas’ “You Can’t Kill Me” on “That Shit Go” and “Cold Spittaz” Mac & A.K. boast agile rhymes that would make the either of the original song writers grin with pleasure. And with a left field pick in Lupe Fiasco’s “Kick, Push,” they are at their most serious, on “Soul Survivors”:

A.K.: “I be in the hood, soaking up the essence
The lessons, of being poor is the message
It’s the conquest when contested
You in the contest, and your life still restless
But still precious
The hustle’s epic, we need an anthem
Ill street blues, it sounds like the answer
Thanks to Kool G, I can rap this song
And my soul’s on fire when the cash is gone
You know?”

Mac: “My momma cried when I told her I sold cocaine
With visions of a fiend dying from slow pain
Got me thinking I’m a beast, seeing the white chief
In the gutter just, me and my brother fighting the streets
Yo, I thought the music would’ve saved my life
So I gave the street game up and paid the price to rock the mic”

However, “Hood Legends” is dominated by generic, lackluster raps by its two stars. They have talent, and probably very interesting stories to tell, but for whatever reason, won’t take the time or risk to switch up the subject matter a little bit. As such, all “Hood Legends” is likely to do is make you want to listen to the original songs that are redone on the disk. And because of their unwillingness to be any different from every other rapper trying to hustle mixtapes, they fail to distinguish themselves on “Hood Legends.”

Mac & A.K. :: Hood Legends, Vol. 1
5Overall Score