Let me tell you about Mike. Mike had worked in construction for so long his hands had turned...
DJBooth Album Review
I know what you’re thinking - I come hear to read about hip-hop and I get stories about old construction workers? Well ease off homeboy, just watch me work. See, hip-hop fans seem to think that if you not steering your own yacht with one hand on the wheel and the other on Beyonce’s booty, you’re a failure. Not true. There are plenty of rappers who never achieve fame and glory but still have long careers by consistently delivering quality music to a loyal fan base. Allow me to present Exhibit A, veteran MC Big Noyd. The Mobb Deep affiliate’s latest album Illustious marks over a decade in the game, and while he may not be a household name he’s done just fine; moving some serious units and gaining some hard-earned props in the process. I’ve spent the last few days listening to Illustrious, and while I can’t say it will be on my best of 2008 list, I’ve decided to give the man some respect.
If you want to hear what Big Noyd’s all about look no further than Posted On The Block. Despite comments that he wants to be conscious of the messages he’s sending to kids, including his young daughter, Noyd remains unapologetically street. Posted On the Block features an almost completely solid three minutes of trigger-happy flow, Noyd spits bare-knuckle rhymes and doesn’t pull punches: “On my block/we don’t hold grudges we hold guns, and we rob anybody/don’t give a f*** where you from.” If you want complicated go somewhere else, Noyd gives it to you straight up with no chaser. The verbal clip continues empty on So Much Trouble, a rumbling track featuring an Akon-esque hook from Serani. Noyd’s get rich or die trying verses will deservedly draw G-Unit comparisons, at times he sounds like a faster-paced version of 50, and maybe that’s not a bad comparison to make. Noyd’s muscular flow is reminiscent of Mr. Cent’s, he just also lacks the charisma and swagger to challenge Kanye anytime soon.
Illustrious has more caliber references than an issue of Guns and Ammo magazine, and for those of us not so firearm inclined the album gets repetitive, but Noyd does switch up his unwavering rhyme style on a few tracks. Ghetto features a violence-infused guest verse from phenom Joell Ortiz, whose potential I perhaps mistakenly compared to a young Jordan, and Noyd kicks his flow into high gear with two verses that ride the head-nodding beat to perfection. If every song was Ghetto, Illustrious could have been a truly remarkable album. On the other side of the tracks is Things Done Changed, a track that’s half ode back in the day, and half reflection on how messed up things are now: “Remember Fly Ty? Damn, the n***** doing years kid/baby momma drama/the cops nearly killed him.” Noyd proves he can lay down some laid-back rhymes, even if the lyrics are largely the same, and the slowly riding Things Done Changed is a welcome breath of air in an album weighed down with bricks.
If Illustrious goes down in history as a truly memorable album it will be because of some absolutely stellar production compiled by executive producer Lil Mo of M.O.P. fame. Illustrious’ beats span the sonic spectrum, from the 70’s psychedelic rock inflected Heartless to the soul-drenched sound of The Paper, the album is a testament to the power of production that knows some musical history. So what does all that make Illustrious? Exactly what you’d expect, a solid effort from a rapper who’s never going to be number one, but deserves respect for putting in a life’s worth of hard work…it’s enough to make me think of Mike. See, I told you it’d all make sense sooner or later.
DJBooth Rating - 3.5 Spins
Written by Nathan S. on Jan 22, 2008
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