Up-and-coming Harlem rapper Vado’s name appears to be short for Movado, judging by the opening “Council Music” track from his album “Slime Flu.” It’s likely the manufacturer of expensive Swiss wristwatches wasn’t going to sign off on him using their name for his rap career, so he chopped a syllable off the front and gained a more interesting name in the process. Let’s look atOHHLA.com for a moment – only 17 rappers or groups in hip-hop history who had a name starting with V are archived. We can thus be thankful he didn’t choose to be “Big Vado” or “Young Vado” and ruin the uniqueness of his handle. Furthermore it’s actually easier to picture Vado battling all 17 V’s to claim that number one spot. He could probably crush Vanilla Ice and Violent J, but Vast Aire and Vinnie Paz would be tough competition.

That’s a good transition point to get into the content of “Slime Flu” and move beyond his unique name. Vado is closely affiliated with Cam’Ron, who has been the butt of so many jokes about his rhymes and flow that it’s officially time to retire them for the new decade. Of course it’s only fair to say that most of the people who have been affiliated with Cam over the years could easily own him on the mic, Jim Jones andJuelz Santana among them. Vado’s not the exception to that rule, although the topic matter is not necessarily distinctive. When Vado’s flush with success it’s time for a “Celebration” and when things aren’t going well the air will be filled with “Bullets & Gun Smoke.” Between knocking out all the cliches of a hardass from Harlem though, Vado shows promise as a rapper who can pen raps to “Wake Up” a few heads:

“Whatever you seen, I seen more
Plenty beef, your heat freeze, I squeezed off
Phantom hard top but the seats soft
My man up lookin down at me like the see-saw
I don’t know what happened before
But time’s rough, I need enough to make my feet warm
Yo, I woke up to some haze, holdin my pen steady
They say the Lord on his way, tell him I been ready
I’m here – as I inhale to the song
It’s obvious that where I’m from was hell all along”

Vado obviously has an awareness of his environment that while not deeply profound does exist in prominent enough fashion to do more than scratch the surface. You get the sense from his delivery (similar to Jones, higher in vocal tone, a little similar to Rick Ross) that he’s a realist about the world – happy to floss if he can but happy to be alive and surviving even without the materialistic trappings. He’s also got potential as a cinematic storyteller showcased on songs like “Snapped”:

“Light a 50, sit back in the crib, very 550
My slimes with me, this chick money hungry just like Whitley
From +A Different World+, she’s a different girl than others
Different furs in colors
Born with cake though, cabin the woods upstate low
Slept with a lot of known niggaz, a straight hoe
One day seen a ring on her like ‘Yo what’s that about?’
She reply ‘What you chat about? Like let’s not got that route’
HA! Then she tells me on some G shit
I got a secret, I’m with a dude I don’t wanna be with
So peep it, I took him to court but was defeated
Cause I don’t see nuttin from pre-nup from when he cheated
Could you believe it? In other words, she still with him
But he ain’t never around, so what’s the deal with him?”

The story leads up to a scenario where Vado is ready to kick in the door wavin’ the four-four, but it’s a fun (alibet short) journey to that point. The production mostly supports and does not detract from what Vado’s working with on this album. Lamont Raw spreads out a smooth R&B backdrop for “The Greatest,” Jahlil Beats is appropriately monster jiggy for today’s NY sound on “Beat Knockin” and the aforementioned “Celebration” rides over extra lovely pianos and subtle horns and vocal samples thanks to Fever Beats. There are a few tracks that miss by a wide margin though – “Polo” tries so hard to be gutter it passes beyond it to an irritating whistling background melody punctuated by cowbells. (The cure for the fever of “Slime Flu” is definitely NOT more cowbell.) Nyce doesn’t live up to the name on “Shooter” featuring Cam’Ron, and when Cam is rhyming “loafers… holsters… oysters… roasters, do the math, stupid ass” he needs all the help he can get (okay ONE more joke wouldn’t hurt).

Fortunately compared to excellent beats like what Tivon ‘V. Don’ Key is working with on “Crimesquare” complete with an obscure scratched in McGruff sample, the album wins far more than it loses. Speaking of scratching though, Vado’s “Slime Flu” leaves me scratching my head trying to come up with an appropriate conclusion. He’s better than bad, but not as good as great. He’s not the kind of rapper I’m going out of my way to look for, but he’s not the kind I regret having listened to. Over time he actually reminds me more of The L.O.X. than the DipSet. He seems like he’d fit comfortably into a beat standing shoulder to shoulder with Jadakiss and Styles P, and that’s probably the best of all compliments I could give him. He does show a tendency to stray into well worn refrains of New York’s thugged out rap set, but there’s just enough promise of something more to his rap than the same ol’ same ol’ to keep him intriguing. So ultimately the way I’ll sum up “Slime Flu” is like this – I liked more than I hated and if his name came up on a mixtape in the near future I wouldn’t skip over his track.

Vado :: Slime Flu
7Overall Score