BBB S03E24 – SAN DIEGO COMIC CON ’17 TRAILERS, R.I.P. CHESTER BENNINGTON, SLEIGHT, DUNKIRK

After our 2 week hiatus, Ricardo and I return to Beers, Beats & Bailey to discuss (FINALLY) the major movie & TV trailers launched during the 2017 San Diego Comic Con, the unfortunate passing of Linkin Park frontman Chester Bennington, the WWE Studios-helmed sci-fi drama “Sleight” and what may very well be another masterpiece in Christopher Nolan’s oeuvre, the war film “Dunkirk”.

–  Matthew

 

 

BBB S03E21 – 2nd YEAR ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL

In this special episode of Beers, Beats & Bailey, we celebrate the SECOND ANNIVERSARY of this series, as well as discuss the newest trailers for “Rick and Morty” (Season 3), “Death Note”, “Inhumans” and”Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle”, the music video for Kendrick Lamar’s “ELEMENT.”, a track-by-track review of Jay-Z’s latest Tidal release “4.44”, Netflix’s “Okja” and “GLOW ” (Season 1) and Edgar Wright’s action-packed, music-based crime film “Baby Driver”.

– Matthew

BBB Iron Fist (SEASON 1), Life After Death (ALBUM), Get Out, Kong Skull Island REVIEWS

In this episode, Ricardo reviews the latest Marvel/Netflix TV series “Iron Fist”, I do a track-by-track review of The Notorious B.I.G.’s second and final album “Life After Death”, and we both review Jordan Peele’s creepy debut film “Get Out” and the official introduction of the 8th Wonder of the World into Warner Bros.’ “monsterverse”: “Kong: Skull Island”

– Matthew

BBB GRAMMYS, JACKIE, A MAN CALLED OVE, A CURE FOR WELLNESS, THE GREAT WALL, OSCARS 2017 PREDICTIONS

In our final episode for the month of February, Ricardo Medina and I talk about the Grammy Awards and share our predictions for the upcoming Academy Awards, as well as review the Oscar-nominated movies “Jackie” and “A Man Called Ove”, and the recent theatrical releases “A Cure for Wellness” and “The Great Wall”.

– Matthew

BBB Best of 2016

Finally, we’ve made it! Ricardo Medina, special guest Michael Richards (C.E.O. of Phastraq VFX) and yours truly count down our lists of Best Hip Hop Instrumental Albums, Hip Hop EPs, Hip Hop Albums, Live-Action Movies (VFX), Animated Movies, and the Best and Worst Movies of 2016!

 

– Matthew

BBB Chappelle On SNL, Documentary Now, Dog Eat Dog, Arrival, We Got It From Here… (Album Review)

In today’s podcast, Ricardo and I talk about the first post-Donald Trump episode of “Saturday Night Live” hosted by Dave Chappelle, the documentary parody TV series “Documentary Now”, the neo-noir crime drama “Dog Eat Dog”, the intelligent sci-fi drama “Arrival” (SPOILER TALK) and the long-awaited album from legendary hip hop group A Tribe Called Quest: “We Got it from Here…Thank You 4 Your Service”

–  Matthew

BBB HALFLIFE THEORY, R.I.P. BILL NUNN, SNOWDEN & MR ROBOT SEASON 2 REVIEW

In today’s episode of Beers, Beats & Bailey, we briefly touch on the recent anniversaries of two classic hip-hop albums (A Tribe Called Quest’s “The Low End Theory” and The Roots’ “Illadelph Halflife”)and the tragic passing of actor Bill Nunn, in addition to reviewing the Oliver Stone political thriller “Snowden” and Season 2 of the Emmy-winning cyber-thriller series “Mr. Robot”.

–  Matthew

BBB E3 ’16, OJ Made In America, Reasonable Doubt, All Eyez On Me, The Conjuring 2, Finding Dory

In today’s episode of Beers, Beats & Bailey, we talk about the best of E3 2016, as well as review the epic documentary “O.J.: Made in America”, Jay-Z’s 20-year old debut album “Reasonable Doubt”, the first teaser trailer for the long-awaited 2Pac biopic “All Eyez On Me”, the horror sequel “The Conjuring 2” and the animated sequel “Finding Dory”.

–  Matthew

Hey look! A music review – Jay-Z – Reasonable Doubt (1996)

Reasonable-Doubt

 

Shawn Corey Carter (a.k.a. Jay-Z) is a veteran New York rapper who’s been in the hip-hop game for more than 2 decades. As the hip-hop landscape evolved throughout that time period, Jay-Z has always found ways to stay relevant, interesting, appealing and entertaining. Whether it’s the release of catchy singles such as the infectious “Hard Knock Life” that made Jay-Z an instant household name, the bouncy “Izzo (H.O.V.A.)” that made everyone (including YOU, admit it!) get their damn hands up, and Grammy-winning collaborations with non-hip hop artistes like Justin Timberlake on “Holy Grail”, or his own clothing brand (Roc-a-Wear – REMEMBER THAT SHIT?!!), marrying R&B queen extraordinaire Beyonce Knowles and creating that online music streaming service Tidal that I genuinely don’t care for. This is, in part, due to his raw talent and business skills, both of which he developed in the early 90s as both an up-and-coming rapper (who collaborated with the likes of Big Jaz (a.k.a.  Jaz-O), Jay-Z’s former mentor, Big Daddy Kane and the late, great Big L, to name a few) and an on-again, off-again drug dealer – which, luckily, he permanently let go of to pursue music full-time.

“Reasonable Doubt”, released on June 25th 1996, was the first album released by Roc-a-Fella Records (a label created by Damon “Dame” Dash,  Kareem “Biggs” Burke      and Jay-Z) and Priority Records. When it was re-released by Def Jam, the album became a commercial success. It was another entry in the Mafioso/ gangster sub-genre of East Coast hip hop which originated in the mid-90s, with the release of Wu-Tang Clan member Raekwon’s CLASSIC debut album “Only Built for Cuban Linx….” (one of my all-time favourite albums, and one I strongly recommend you check out). But with “Reasonable Doubt”, Jay-Z did more than ‘glorify’ the joys and thrills of living that life. He also vividly expressed the pain and stress that lifestyle can bring, and how it can lead to eventual death. This “gangster duality” is a theme that would later be explored in stark, art-imitating-life detail in the late, great Notorious B.I.G.’s (one of Jay-Z’s best friends) second and final studio album “Life After Death”.

Anyhoo, 20 years have passed since the release of “Reasonable Doubt”. Does it still hold up? Let’s find out, shall we?

1.  CAN’T KNOCK THE HUSTLE (ft. Mary J. Blige & Pain in Da Ass) –  After Pain in Da Ass’ interpolation of an early scene from everyone’s favourite 80s gangster movie “Scarface”, we get this nocturnal beat produced by Knobody (Hah! Nobody) which has some beefy drums and a murky bassline (which has this low-pass filter applied to it that makes it sound like it’s ebbing and flowing through your ears) that sounds awesome! Added to the mix are some vocalizing (with chorus) from Mary J., and line after line of cocky braggadocio from Jay-Z. And on this song alone, Jay demonstrates the wickedly clever wordplay (“We get together like a choir, to acquire what we desire”, “We do dirt like worms, produce G’s like sperm / Until legs spread like germs”, “My pops knew exactly what he did when he made me / Tried to get a nut and he got a nut and what”) that would earn him his title of ‘Best Rapper Alive’.  Overall, “Can’t Knock the Hustle” is the perfect way to start this album, as Knobody’s (Ha! Nobody) instrumental and Jay’s flow makes you, the listener, feel as if you’re in the passenger seat of Jay’s personal limo (or in the trunk if you’re a hater), as you’re given a night tour of Brooklyn courtesy of Hov himself.

2.  POLITICS AS USUAL – Ski (now known as Ski Beatz) delivers a smooth, soulful instrumental (which, like “Can’t Knock the Hustle”, serves as excellent riding music) for Jay-Z to rap about the daily, seemingly never-ending stress that comes about with drug dealing (the police, rival dealers, customers and the drug dealer’s connect – i.e. the “body politic”). Yet still, like he states in the last few lines (“Ain’t no stoppin’ the champagne from poppin’ / The drawers from droppin’, the law from watchin'”), Jay has no choice but to live with the good and the bad.

3.  BROOKLYN’S FINEST (ft. The Notorious B.I.G., DJ Clark Kent & Pain in Da Ass) –  After Pain in Da Ass’ interpolation of a scene from the 1993 Al Pacino gangster film “Carlito’s Way (or what would have happened to Tony Montana if he didn’t actually die in ‘Scarface’)” which is mildly entertaining – and short – enough to listen to until you realize that it has nothing to do with the fucking song overall – we get a bouncy, club-friendly beat from DJ Clark Kent (I love the upbeat piano melody that plays throughout, by the way) that’s guaranteed to make you lift your champagne glasses in the air and sing the catchy-as-hell hook (“Jay-Z and Biggie Smalls, n***a shit your drawers / (Where you from?) Brooklyn, going out for all”) or at least imagine you’re in a Brooklyn nightclub singing that catchy-as-hell hook. Jay and his hip hop brother from another mother Notorious B.I.G. have fun on this beat as they “battle” each other with one braggadocius, Mafioso-influenced bar after another, with B.I.G. delivering the best – ADMIT IT – in the entire song (“Shoot your daughter in the calf muscle/ Fuck a tussle, nickel-plated / Sprinkle coke on the floor, make it drug-related”, “Gotta go, Coolio mean it’s getting “Too Hot” / If Fay (Faith Evans) had twins, she’d probably have two Pacs (Get it? 2Pac?).  Unfortunately, B.I.G. and Jay collaborated on one another song (“I Love the Dough” from the ‘Life After Death’ double album) before B.I.G. passed away prior to his album’s release. Shame, though. We could’ve gotten a collabo album from them at least. Oh well.

4.  DEAD PRESIDENTS II–  To be honest, this version of “Dead Presidents” was the one I heard first. And while the original  version (same beat, different lyrics) was decent, “Dead Presidents II” is far superior, and it still ranks among my all-time favourite Jay-Z songs. Ski’s downbeat, piano-assisted instrumental perfectly sets the tone for this song, as Jay-Z raps about doing what it takes (violently or non-violently, legally or illegally) to get the money, the CREAM, the “dead presidents”.  And of course, the Nas sample (lifted from the remix to “The World is Yours”) in the chorus is the literal icing on the cake that makes this song (whichever version you prefer) all the more memorable.

5.  FEELIN’ IT (ft. Mecca) –  Mecca’s hook isn’t half-bad, but it does fit the jazzy, laid-back vibe of Ski’s instrumental, which is also supported by Jay’s relaxed, conversation-style rapping.  As a “thug on holiday” song, “Feelin’ It” is pretty decent, although every time I hear this track, I can’t help but remember that scene in its music video, where Jay-Z, Dame Dash and company almost got shot in the confines of his fucking motorboat by jet ski-riding gunmen. Shit, can a hustler get a break from mindless gunplay for one day? Jeez!

6.  D’EVILS – Over a moody instrumental supplied by boom-bap producing legend DJ Premier (with some well-selected vocal samples from both Snoop Dogg’s “Murder was the Case they Gave Me” and Prodigy’s contribution to the LL Cool J track “I Shot Ya (Remix)”), Jay gets deep and dark on the evils of pursuing personal wealth and power. Unfortunately, time hasn’t been too kind on this track as its title and morbid subject matter have been the subject of many “Jay-Z’s part of the Illumaniti” bullshit articles and videos that were popular in the 2000s. But if you listen closely, without over-analyzing every lyric on this song, you’ll be rewarded with a thought-provoking look into the psychological effects of one’s obsession with money and material possessions, and how that obsession can lead to mistrust, paranoia and loneliness. Excellent track!

7.  22 TWO’s (ft. Mary Davis) – Throughout this track, you can picture Jay in the middle of a cypher rhyming his ass off and showing off his rap skills (in the first verse, he says the number 2 TWENTY-TWO times, hence the title) over Ski’s grimy instrumental. But Jay isn’t rapping for the sake of showing off: he wants to make a career out of this (which he did). And the beauty of “22 Two’s” is the underlying fact that on-stage, he can pretty much do and say and rep who and what he wants, but off-stage, he’s smart enough to know when and how to carry himself as a businessman and not just a hustler or “thug” from the streets (as is cleverly emphasized in the outro of this track). Long story short, this song KNOCKS, and one that I’m sure you’ll be listening to at least 22 times.

 8.  CAN I LIVE–  So the Issac Hayes classic “The Look of Love” was used in the (underrated, in my opinion) 1995 crime film “Dead Presidents” which starred Larenz Tate. One year later, DJ Irv a.k.a. Irv Gotti, founder of the now-defunct Murder Inc. label sampled that song to make the FANTASTIC beat in “Can I Live” (which Jay sounds equally fantastic on, in case you were wondering). In 2003, former Murder Inc. artiste Ashanti sampled “The Look of Love” for her hit song “Rain on Me” (one of the few Ashanti songs that I genuinely like), and in the music video (which, also, I genuinely like), her abusive boyfriend was played by….Larenz Tate! Conspiracy, anyone?

9.  AIN’T NO N***A (ft. Foxy Brown, Khadijah Bass & Big Jaz) – Also known as the song that introduced a then 16-year old Foxy Brown to the masses. And she definitely holds her own against Jay’s hilariously raunchy brags and boasts.  The beat, bare-bones to say the least, is groovy enough to hold the listener’s attention for its 4-minute runtime, and the chorus (which blatantly rips the chorus from The Four Tops’ “Ain’t No Woman (Like the One I Got)”) is pretty catchy.

10.  FRIEND OR FOE– DJ Premier delivers another boom-bap beat, this time for the shortest track on the album. The blaring trombones that play over the drumbeat, and the song’s setup (Jay telling a small group of hustlers – in a “polite”, reasonable manner – NOT to sell product on his turf) gives “Friend or Foe” the feeling that you’re watching a scene from a classic Prohibition-era gangster movie. A short scene, yes, but classic nonetheless.

 11.  COMING OF AGE (ft. Memphis Bleek) – Cold, plodding pianos coupled with a slow drumbeat (with sprinkles of fluttering keyboards that appear in the intro and chorus) are all that DJ Clark Kent provides for this literal coming-of-age story where Jay runs into an up-and-coming hustler (played by Memphis Bleek) and takes him under his wing. I love the simple concept of this track, and I especially love the back-and-forth conversation Jay has with Bleek in the third verse, which is the same technique used in the entirety of the “Coming of Age II” track from “Vol 2 – Hard Knock Life”, where in an ironic twist of fate, Bleek comes across like a wild upstart with his aggressive tone and attitude, while Jay, completely aware of the change in Bleek’s character, tries to knock some sense into him.  Mentorship ain’t easy, people.

 12.  CASHMERE THOUGHTS – In my opinion, the weakest track on the album, simply because its pimp/player theme feels out of place with the hustler/drug dealer concept of “Reasonable Doubt”. Yes, Jay spits some witty bars throughout this song, but they’re bogged down by a Blaxploitation-inspired instrumental that always fails to captivate me every time I hear it. In short, “Cashmere Thoughts” is good, but far from great.

 13. BRING IT ON (ft.  Sauce Money & Jaz-O) – Hands down, the BEST song on this album! EVERYTHING about “Bring it On” works! From the lyrical dexterity of Sauce Money, Big Jaz (a.k.a. Jaz-O) and Jay – all of whom sound hungry as fuck on this track, and all of whom spit a number of rewind-worthy lines in their respective verses (one of my favourite lines comes from Sauce Money: “Said we was garbage, so fuck college / Street knowledge amazing the scholars when we coin phrases for dollars”) to DJ Premier’s phenomenal instrumental (one of the best he’s ever produced) that’s guaranteed to make your head nod as soon as the drums kick in, and its hook (sampled from Fat Joe’s verse from the 1995 single “1,2, Pass  It” ) that’s guaranteed to make you shout “Yeah! Bring it on if you think you can hang / And if not, then let me do my thing” whilst nodding your head.  Definitely worth a slot in your Top 10 Jay-Z Songs list…..if you have one.

 14. REGRETS – “In order to survive, gotta learn to live with regrets”. Jay’s message on this album closer is so simple yet so easy to ignore in our day-to-day life. Over a soothing, downbeat instrumental, Jay looks back at the bad decisions and unfortunate situations he found himself in during his former life as a drug dealer, as well as promises made to his friends and to himself to make the most of the life that he still has. And regardless of who we are and our position in life, we’ve all had regrets that we were forced to live with. It’s just a matter of learning from them, learning to live with them and moving forward. Deep message aside, this is one of Jay’s most serious and heartfelt songs he’s ever composed – and undoubtedly one of his best. Perfect way to end this album.

 

MY THOUGHTS: After the release of his debut, Jay-Z managed to put out other albums than can easily be defined as “classics”, whether it’s the commercially-appealing “Vol. 2 – Hard Knock Life” from 1998, 2001’s “The Blueprint” which officially introduced the world to producer/rapper Kanye West, his purported 2003 “farewell” album “The Black Album”, or 2007’s “American Gangster” which was inspired thematically by the Ridley Scott-directed crime biopic of the same name.  But for me, “Reasonable Doubt” remains his greatest work, and will always remain my FAVOURITE Jay-Z album. It presented the perfect portrait of a person who wants to be as influential as a Tony Montana or a Carlito Brigante, ready and willing to do what it takes to reap the financial rewards of the Mafioso lifestyle, whilst dealing with the pain of said lifestyle and using it as fuel to help better himself, not just as a hustler, but as a man.

Currently, “Reasonable Doubt” is my fifth favourite album of all time, with Numbers 4 to 1 being: The Notorious B.I.G.’s “Ready to Die”, Nas’ “Illmatic”, Wu-Tang Clan’s  “Enter the Wu-Tang Clan: 36 Chambers” and, of course, A Tribe Called Quest’s “Midnight Marauders”. If you’re an East Coast hip hop fan (like I clearly am), this album deserves to be in your collection. If you’re a Jay-Z fan, then “Reasonable Doubt” should already be in your collection, and if not…..WHY??!! And if you’ve never listened to this album, DEFINITELY CHECK IT OUT! “Reasonable Doubt” still holds up amazingly after all these years. Here’s hoping that it holds up for 20 – or at least 22 – more.

MY RATING: 5 out of 5 stars (“Listen to this album before you die”)

– Matthew

Hey look! A music review – Busta Rhymes – The Coming (1996)

 

Busta Rhymes - The Coming [Front]

March 26th 2016 marks the 20th anniversary of the debut album from prolific hip hop artiste / producer / occasional actor Trevor “Busta Rhymes” Smith Jr.: “The Coming”. Before its release, he was known as one of the members of the now-defunct four-man group Leaders of the New School. Their brand of light-hearted, golden-age hip hop-hearkening music earned them a following in the East Coast alternative hip hop circuit, along with major groups like De La Soul and A Tribe Called Quest (my favourite rap group of all time, in case you didn’t know already). But it was the collaboration between A Tribe Called Quest and Leaders of the New School on the posse cut “Scenario” that propelled Busta to instant super-stardom, thanks to his hyperactive delivery and quotable lines (“RRRRRROAW RRRRRRROAW like a Dungeon Dragon!” See kids, THAT’S where  Nicki Minaj got her chorus for “Roman’s Revenge” from).

After their 1993 sophomore album (“T.I.M.E. (The Inner Mind’s Eye”) flopped,  Leaders of the New School disbanded during the recording of an episode of the MTV hip hop series “Yo! MTV Raps”, the main reason being Busta’s popularity over the other group members. Busta proceeded to capitalize on his success by making guest appearances on a number of artistes’ tracks,  the two most notable being A Tribe Called Quest’s “Oh My God” off their “Midnight Marauders” LP (i.e. my favourite album of all time, in case you didn’t know already), and the remix to then-Bad Boy Records signee Craig Mack’s “Flava in Ya Ear” (one of the GREATEST posse cuts and remixes in hip-hop history) alongside his cousin Roger McNair a.k.a. Rampage. He also tried his hand at acting with his appearance in the Forest Whitaker-directed film “Strapped” and the John Singleton-directed “Higher Learning” (his second best film to date, in my opinion).

But still, Busta wanted to prove to the world (and himself, obviously) that he had what it took to do a solo project without the assistance of his LONS comrades. And the end result was “The Coming”, released by Elektra Records (where Busta recorded three more albums, his last being the WORST album in his career – 2000’s “Anarchy”) to critical and commercial success. Thanks to the smash hits “Woo-Hah!! Got You All in Check” (and its hyper-stylized, brightly-coloured, fish eye-lens assisted music video by Hype Williams) and “It’s a Party”, the world was officially introduced to the animated, aggressive and idiosyncratic Bus-a-Bus.

Additionally, listeners were introduced to a specific theme on the album that showed up on Busta’s second and third records (1997’s “When Disaster Strikes” – arguably the BEST album in his career – and 1999’s “E.L.E.: Extinction Level Event”, one of his most divisive): Y2K. Each of these three albums – which, for this review’s sake, I’ll call the “Pre-Apocalypse Trilogy”, opens and closes with an aural indication of what terrible, horrifying shit to expect in the year 2000 (See kids, this was back in the days when people thought the world was going to END on January 1st 2000. Fuck, I feel old).

While I will admit the intro and outro for “When Disaster Strikes” weren’t that terrible (at least the intro had Rudy Ray Moore a.k.a. “Dolemite” on it),  and the ones for “The Coming” were annoying in their half-baked pretentiousness (more on that in a bit), it’s the opening and closing tracks for “E.L.E.” that were PAINFULLY excruciating to listen to. Despite all that, what really matters aren’t the self-indulgent warnings of a “Terminator”-esque future (I shit you not! Listen to the opening track for “E.L.E.” – if you dare!), but the tracks sandwiched between those torturous lobotomy sessions put on wax. Fortunately for the listener, on those three albums, Busta only delves a little (on a song/line or two) on that theme. But at the end of the day, he’s a hip-hop showman, and come hell or high water or nuclear holocaust, all he wants is to entertain the shit out of the listener.

So did he achieve that goal in his debut album? Let’s find out, shall we?

 

1.  THE COMING (Intro) (ft. Lord Have Mercy & Rampage) –  Even with its cartoonishly monstrous prologue by Flipmode Squad (Busta’s official rap clique) associate Lord Have Mercy, hyped intro by Rampage, TWO beat change-ups (the second of which creatively uses a snippet of the late, great Wu-Tang Clan member Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s falsetto from his “Goin’ Down” track off his “Return to the 36 Chambers: The Dirty Version” debut album) and some commentary on wack rappers and the state of the rap game from our host himself, this intro is too long and pretentious for its own good. Oh, and Busta mentions that “there’s only 4 years left”, which pretty much kicks off the Pre-Apocalypse Trilogy on a self-indulgent note. More on that later.

2.  DO MY THING – For a 2-verse affair, Busta delivers some ridiculously witty bars (“Y’all think fast, before I get, all in your ass / Bend your frame like plexiglass”, “I will endanger your species like an ostrich / Hold you hostage, and crazy feed you swine sausage”) over a funky, heavy-bass beat by DJ/producer DJ Scratch. The short skit at the end (which re-iterates how Busta feels about wack rappers) was unnecessary as fuck, but overall, this was a really decent way to start the album off.

3.  EVERYTHING REMAINS RAW –  The heavy drums and off-kilter sampling of jazz icon Miles Davis’ “Bess, You Is My Woman Now” is enough to have your head NODDING all throughout Easy Mo Bee’s grimy, nocturnal beat. And Busta spits some of my favourite lines off this entire goddamned album (“Yo, I burn your food like Florence / Run up in your crib like my name was search warrants”,  “I be the mostest with rhyme overdoses / Hot stepping over shit like Ini Kamoze’s / Sick lyrics like multiple sclerosis / Focus, while I display flows ferocious”). And not even his self-indulgent “There’s only 5 years left!” declaration (which is funny since he mentioned that “there’s only 4 years left” in the album intro, making it painfully obvious that this track was recorded back in 1995, but anyway…….) at the end of this song was able to kneecap it from becoming one of my all-time favourite Busta Rhymes songs EVER!!

4.  ABANDON SHIP (ft. Rampage) – Speaking of all-time favourite Busta Rhymes songs ever – HERE’S ANOTHER ONE!!! Over an energetic, stripped-down instrumental produced by BUSTA HIMSELF (who’d have thought??), Busta and Rampage showcase their chemistry on the mic with one hyped-up, razor-sharp lyric after another. Speaking of instrumental, I always smile at the moment when it skips on purpose after the line “Yo, I’m gettin’ phone calls from that n***a Howard Stern”. This is another song that will have you nodding your head throughout its entirety – and also, if you’re like me, jumping up and down like a madman while you shout the catchy-as-hell refrain “You n***as talk shit, then abandon ship / N***as talk shit then they abandon ship” at the top of your lungs (Imagine me doing that for a minute. FOR A MINUTE! You don’t get FIVE!). And as an added bonus, you get to hear a minute of the light, playful jazz / funk song “Space” by Canadian composer  Galt MacDermot. Yeah, it’s purposely placed on the album to inform the listener – “Hey, this is where we got the samples for BOTH the original and remix of “Woo-Hah!! Got you All in Check”, but it does helps to bring the energy down from “Abandon Ship”. And it’s guaranteed to put a goofy smile on your face – and ignore the person or two who caught you jumping up and down like a madman singing “You n***as talk shit, then abandon ship / N***as talk shit then they abandon ship” a minute ago.

5.  WOO HAH!! GOT YOU ALL IN CHECK (ft. Rampage) –  From its cleverly-written bars (for each of the three verses, the last word in each bar rhymed with one another) and manic delivery by Busta, to the infectious beat produced by Rashad Smith, this first single off this album resonated with me after I first heard it back in 1996- and still does to this day. Arguably his most popular song to date,  and one of my top 5 favourite Busta Rhymes songs (and yours also – ADMIT IT), “Woo Hah!! Got you all in Check” is a certified CLASSIC!

6.  IT’S A PARTY (ft. Zhané) – Easy Mo Bee’s groovy beat is clearly tailor-made for radio airplay, but it’s the perfect fit for R&B duo Zhané  (whose debut album “Pronounced Jah-Nay” I recommend you check out. It’s one of the more better mid-90s R&B albums, in my opinion. And it has “Hey Mr D.J.” and “Groove Thang” on it. So yeah…..). They provide some smooth, seductive lyrics to this club song, while Busta plays the guy who lyrically flirts with them in-between their short verses and chorus. The interlude that appears after this track is simply there to force the listener out of the “club scene” of “It’s a Party” and return to the regularly-scheduled rap shit of the album. Busta’s “Aye yo, Saddam Hussein! Cut that shit off!” request at the end of the interlude is fucking hilarious, by the way!

7.  HOT FUDGE – The instrumental by Vibe Chemist Backspin (awesome name, I know) tries to be all moody and nocturnal, but ends up being boring and monotonous. And Busta’s stream-of-consciousness lyrics do little to help things. Oh, and the sex skit afterwards (because fuck it, ALL debut album rap albums had to have a sex skit) is painfully cliched. The first misfire on the album. And I have a strange feeling that there’s more on the way.

8.  ILL VIBE (ft. Q-Tip) – Now THIS is how the fuck to do a moody, nocturnal and most importantly, ENTERTAINING instrumental! And both MCs sound fantastic over it, especially Busta who copies his “last word on each bar sounds the same” formula from “Woo-Hah!!”, but in a less-manic fashion. Admittedly, this minimalistic, low-key beat provided by The Ummah (a music production collective consisting of A Tribe Called Quest’s Q-Tip and Ali Shaheed Muhammad, and the late, great rapper/producer J Dilla) does sound like a leftover from “Beats, Rhymes and Life”, A Tribe Called Quest’s 1996 album which heralded a change from the upbeat jazzy instrumentation that defined the group’s sound to a slightly-darker, more chilled-out production aesthetic. Even Q-Tip’s bars, great as they were, sounds like a throwaway verse from that album, with that “dose of reality” style of lyricism he adopted after “Midnight Marauders” came out. Come to think of it, “Ill Vibe” would’ve worked better as a track on “Beats, Rhymes and Life”, but hey, who am I to complain?

9.  FLIPMODE SQUAD MEETS DEF SQUAD (ft. Jamal, Redman, Keith Murray, Rampage & Lord Have Mercy) – In this eight minute and eleven second posse cut (yeah, this shit is loooong, son!), Def Squad members Jamal, Redman (who steals the show from everyone on this song) and Keith Murray (you’d think that Erick Sermon, one of the founders of Def Squad, would have been on this track, but nope! Nowhere to be found on this track!) join forces with Busta Rhymes, Rampage and Lord Have Mercy to demolish The Vibe Chemist Backspin’s marginally decent beat (at least it’s better than “Hot Fudge”) to the point that you forget it’s playing in the background. And THAT’S saying something!

10.  STILL SHINING – J Dilla of The Ummah brings that spacey, snyth-assisted production that made him a LEGEND among hip-hop producers (And I should know. I’m a HUGE fan of his production) into a short but sweet acknowledgment of Busta’s own lyrical talents as an MC. The chorus is a throwback to a line from the remix of “Scenario”, which itself is a reference to the aforementioned line he spit in the original version of “Scenario”  that, as I mentioned earlier, shot him to super-stardom. Speaking of Leaders of the New School…

11.  KEEP IT MOVIN'(ft. Leaders of the New School) – After verbally scaring the shit out of his LONS peers to get themselves out of their retirement comfort zone to get to the studio (“Where da fuck y’all at?!!”) at the end of “Still Shining”,  Busta attempts to re-create the chemistry between himself, Charlie Brown, Cut Monitor Milo and Dinco D over a J Dilla beat that fucking KNOCKS over its five-minute and thirty-second runtime. Lyrically and chorus-wise, it’s not that memorable, but the mere fact that all four members of Leaders of the New School were able to collaborate on this track made it really special. Oh, and the use of the same sample from Ohio Players’ “Ecstasy” – which was used in the instrumental for the “Scenario” remix – was a nice touch, by the way.

12.  THE FINISH LINE – After an unnecessary “hood skit” (because fuck it, ALL hardcore rap albums had to have a hood skit), Busta warns the listener to be ever mindful of death, because….well…..death is waiting for us all. And honestly, his subject matter and delivery (for the most part) isn’t bad, but DJ Scratch’s beat is dull and Busta’s sung chorus (one of many in his career) sounds uninspired. But hey, at least we’re nearing the end of this album so…..

13. THE END OF THE WORLD (Outro) (ft.  Spliff Star) – After Busta talks about getting ready for the end times and all that Y2K-relevant shit over the first beat from “The Coming” (Intro), we get a pretentious-as-fuck audio collage that sounds like the trailer for a bad, made-for-TV movie about the apocalypse. What a way to end the album, Bus! Oh, and Spliff Star. Damn. Forgot he was on this fucking outro too.

BONUS TRACKS TO ADD TO YOUR PLAYLIST

1. WOO HAH!! GOT YOU ALL IN CHECK (The World Wide Remix) (ft. Ol’ Dirty Bastard) – Trevor Smith Jr. and Russell Jones: a match made in hysterical heaven. Over a catchy, slow-tempo beat that loops another sample from the aforementioned “Space” over a hard drumbeat and heavy bassline,  Busta and Ol’ Dirty Bastard go back-and-forth over three verses of demented bars and deranged flows. And they sound freakin’ AWESOME! You can literally feel the chemistry between the two MCs as they each try to support and one-up each other in terms of lyrical zaniness. Both the original and World Wide Remix are crazy in their own right, but this version (and its music video which you should DEFINITELY check out) trumps the former in terms of insane hilarity. But if you’re looking for a remix to YOUR FAVOURITE BUSTA RHYMES SONG (admit it) that’s a lot less ape-shit, then maybe you should try this….

2. WOO HAH!! GOT YOU ALL IN CHECK (The Jay Dee Bounce Remix) (ft. Rampage) – This remix takes the vocals from the original song and lays them over a groovy, mid-tempo beat provided by J Dilla (going by his former alias Jay Dee) himself. Now you’d think that taking Busta’s amped acappella and placing it over a groovy, mid-tempo beat won’t work. But because this beat is fucking FIRE, it totally works! This is one of the best hip hop remixes I’ve ever heard, and as a J Dilla fan, I can easily say that this is one of his best instrumentals. And if you’re a beat junkie, you should definitely source this one! You’ll have this shit on repeat! Trust me on that one.

MY THOUGHTS: “The Coming” isn’t a perfect album. Along with the Y2K theme that gets more annoying with his two follow-ups, there are a few tracks that you genuinely won’t care for, even if they do have Busta’s trademark vocal delivery on them. Fortunately, there are more good songs on this album than bad, and those good songs, fortunately enough, still hold up to this day. If you’re a Busta Rhymes fan, then you should already have this album in your collection. If you’re a die-hard fan of 90s hip hop like I am, then “The Coming” is certainly worth checking out. And if you’re curious of how hip hop sounded back in the 90s before Y2K gave birth to a spawn of wack-ass rappers who did shitty dances, spit shitty rhymes and put audiences to sleep with their shitty, auto-tuned flows, then give this album a listen. You’ll be surprised by how hip-hop sounded in the glory days, and hopefully – entertained as well.

MY RATING: 4 out of 5 stars (“Listen to this album”)

– Matthew