“Drink a Heiny, down some ‘gnac, smoke a blunt and I’m straight
It’s the same routine since 1988
I’m straight, you straight – you straight? I’m straight
The hard drugs you snatch just fuck up your mindstate
The first time you tried it it was like a blind date
You married that bitch, up went the crime rate
You blamed it on your parents on your family’s blood trait
Now your momma’s missin silverware and can’t find the plates”

Early on in “Control Freek,” Tash and his partner B-Real ask the musical question “How Hi Can U Get?” That’s a bit surprising from CaTashTrophe – not that he’s a smoker mind you – it’s a surprise he’s not talking about getting to’ up on liquor. After all Tash is one-third of the legendary Alkaholiks crew, the most beloved problem drinkers in all of hip-hop save for the late great ODB. From 1993-2006, the group did one inebriated tour after another, giving their fans a chance to embrace a lifestyle portrayed on albums like “21 and Over” and “Likwidation.” In the process the perennial party rappers became known for something else besides their drinking proclivities – they became recognized worldwide for funny-ass raps and heavy beats. Tha Alkaholiks were the group who could always make you smile and go “I can’t believe he just said that shit,” and out of all three members Tash was often the one who stole the show. Unfortunately the music industry stole even more back, which was why Tha Liks had to tour so much – fans loved them but album sales disappointed.

Tash has tried to go the solo route once before on “Rap Life” with equally frustrating results, but you can’t keep a good rapper down. After all Tash was so determined and focused that he stayed in California when his parents divorced rather than moving back to his native Columbus, Ohio – and his rap career has been a roller coaster of highs and lows (double entendre intended) ever since. All Tash needs to compete is a good beat, and he’ll provide a rap that’s amusing, hard hitting or tells a good story – sometimes all of the above. “Control Freek” proves to be no exception for CaTash, as he hits hard right out the box linking up with former Alkaholik partner E-Swift on “Go West,” although Tash is the unquestionably the star:

“Look at how the 24’s be spinnin when I’m rollin
Hold up Mr. Officer I know you think my car is stolen
It’s not though! CaTashTrophe I bend the block slow
Big cars, big guns, nigga we got those!
I swing it from the night to the fuckin morning after
Have to be the first one to anything they manufacture
A Bentley? Nahhhh, that’s out of my price range
I’ma get Xzibit drunk and win that shit in a dice game”

Sadly Mr. X to the Z doesn’t make a cameo on “Control Freek” but several other members of the extended Likwit family do. J-Ro drops in over the plucky electronic Oh No provided notes of “Right/Wrong” plus the Montage One laced finale “Liquor Store Run.” King Tee still holds it down for the West coast gangsters on “We Do This” along with J-Beam and Knoc’turn-al. E-Swift gets behind the boards for several tracks, including the aforementioned “How Hi Can U Get,” the G-Funked out “Wet Paint” with Kokane and the album’s lead single “New Bikini”:

“The official party crasher crash the party with my Remy
Since the bouncer fronted on me I just slid down the chimney
My chick is in this bitch but I don’t bitch at her to check her
That bitch know she fuckin with a red hot chili pepper
The mad scientist, I’m workin hard up in the laboratory
This time around Tash I’m servin every category
Dance tracks I make, you’ll be dustin off them Hammer pants
Battle raps I serve, you might as well call the ambulance…
… I make your girl wanna do it
Don’t play my shit at night, y’all might make a baby to it”

There’s no question that even after almost 20 years in the rap game, Tash is still hella crisp with his lyrical delivery and pens some of the wittiest bars in hip-hop. It’s not ALL good on “Control Freek” though. I understand J Beam was trying to be creative with the Pong style beat on “Get It,” but if I hadn’t been anticipating the run-in by Del the Funky Homosapien at the end, this song would have been cut off two minutes earlier (and Del does rip it). “Don’t Wanna Kill U” has the same problem, except replace Del with King Tee and two other guests. Thayod’s going for something out of a horror movie, which it probably works as, but it’s not a head-nodder or a foot tapper – it’s just unpleasant. The “Obama Skit” is not funny, which is a shame given the natural humor inherent in most things Tash does.

None of these things take away from classic Tash tracks like “Closer,” where Tash spits a personal story about being the friend all his friends take advantage of. The chorus plays off of Whodini’s classic “Friends” for extra emphasis and the beat by Emmaculate is among the album’s best. With more winners than losers and a relatively cheap price to download it from Amalgam Digital, “Control Freek” is definitely worth checking out for fans of either Tash or the Likwit Crew.

Tash :: Control Freek
7Overall Score