Last week I was in a daze, unable to make sense of the world around me. A question was gnawing away at me like Fat Joe on a chicken-wing. There I was, the Re-Up Gang’s new album pulsing through my speakers, and I was shockingly unimpressed. See, for me listening to anything related to the Clipse is a near religious experience. Or to put it in their words, “so much white you might think that holy Christ was near.” Damn, I mean I even liked that joint they did with Justin Timberlake. So how could …
Fans can also check out Re-Up Gang's previous albums: Re-Up Gang - We Got It 4 Cheap (Vol. 3): The Spirit of Competition
DJBooth Album Review
And then it hit me. The answer’s simple really. The Clipse Present the Re-Up Gang is a pretty damn good album, it’s just not nearly as good as the mixtape. As I wrote back in February, We Got It 4 Cheap (Vol. 3): The Spirit of Competition, was the mixtape of the year, and six months later it still is. Re-Up Gang, on the other hand, might not even be the best album released in August. Where the mixtape delivered body blows, the album sticks and jabs, and where the mixtape was straight dope, the album feels like it’s cut with a little bit of musical baking soda. In other words, the Re-Up Gang is their own worst enemy. They’re so good, they make themselves look bad.
That also means that if you haven’t heard the mixtape, please ignore the previous paragraph. If you need some help forgetting, I recommend multiple shots of Patron (just joking kids, drinking is wrong). The truth is that if you don’t carry the same prejudices I did when you first put on the album, you’re in for a good time. The most notable difference on this go around for Malice, Pusha T and their Re-Up compadres Ab Liva and Sandman is – predictably - more radio friendly fare. Take the minimally titled Money, a track that sounds oddly like a stripped-down version of I Get Money (listen to em both back to back and tell me I’m wrong). It’s no surprise that Re-Up distinguishes themselves from Mr. Cent in the lyrical department; even their cash flow flow is metaphor heavy: “I lead a horse to water, but I can’t make him drink, I shove classics, here’s my Cuban Linx.” Money’s not the triple-beam brilliance you’d hope for, but it’s still better than most. In comparison, the lead-single off the album is Fast Life, produced by Scott Storch (remember when he was major?). Fast Life is a Clipse exclusive, meaning they excluded Ab Liva and Sandman, but surprisingly it doesn’t really work. I feel like the beat’s primarily to blame, it’s just too clap-happy for the street-bound Clipse. For a beat that works much better with the crew's off-kilter rhyme style just flip one track back to the darkly echoing Street Money. In other words, Street Money would have made the mixtape. Fast Money, not so much.
If it sounds like I’m obsessed with The Spirit of Competition, I am, but it doesn’t help that five tracks from The Spirit of Competition make a re-appearance on the album. Re-Up Gang Intro transforms from a track that sounds like an angel walking through the bowels of hell on the mixtape to a more triumphant but softer version, and Bring It Back goes from an all-out banger to the much more laid back, synth-centric album version. On the flip side I was glad to hear that Emotionless, the rawly insightful track that was my favorite of Spirit of Competition, remained largely intact with a pounding bass line adding even more dark depth than the original. Similarly, Show You How to Hustle is the one track that’s even better than the mixtape version, with coke-laced metaphors like “I double up on birds like Noah in the flood” underwritten by strangely swirling synths.
You know what? I clearly need to just get over the mixtape and learn to enjoy the Re-Up Gang album. Hold on, let me reach for some of that aforementioned Patron....ahhhh, that’s better. Suddenly the world, and the album, has a new golden sheen. Now I’m feeling the electronically spacey We Know much better, and Still Got It For Cheap is feeling harder than cracked concrete. At the end of the day The Spirit of Competition is still better, but Re-Up Gang the album’s pretty damn good itself. Keep lining up those shots and pretty soon I’ll be calling it a classic.
DJBooth Rating - 3.5 Spins
Written by Nathan S. on 08/4/08
Re-Up Gang Records/Sony
First DJ Booth Appearance:
"20k Money Making Brothers On The Corner ft. Re-Up Gang" (2008)
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