I was driving slowly down the heat-scorched streets, the music so loud the bass rattled my rear...
DJBooth Album Review
How real is Spider Loc’s new album West Kept Secret: The Prequel? Real enough that you better know what music you’re playing and who else can hear it. Loc had been slowly rising through the west-coast ranks for years, but then a meeting with 50 Cent turned into an audition, and before you could say “g-g-g-g-G-Unit!” he was signed. Now the eternally blue rapper is set to make his major label debut. Before he unleashes his relentlessly South Central style on America he’s decided to pave the way with West Kept Secret. The album serves notice; Loc is here and he means business.
It’d be too simple to call Loc a gang rapper, by all accounts he gets love from various sets and certainly has universal appeal, but when the lead single is called Blutiful World the crip connection isn’t exactly subtle. The track starts with a crackhead dwarf version of Mr. Rogers (that’s the most accurate description I could think of, seriously) announcing, “it’s a blutiful day in my neighborhood.” Then some of the mellowest production in recent memory rolls in and Loc lays down three verses around the word blue. It’s a testament to his writing skill that the song never gets gimmicky, he keeps it fresh; “got a blutiful glow from my blue ice, crack that crap game nice with the blue dice.” School principals will be hyperventilating over the song’s obvious gang affiliation, but the vibe is actually pretty positive, thanks in part to E-Note’s smooth vocals. The exact opposite is true of Big Blacc Boots, a crushingly hard track featuring the unstoppable Ice Cube. Cube swears he’s one flop away from kidnapping for money, and he sounds so convincing I’m ready to see Are We Done Yet? just to keep him off the streets. The track is a symbolic passing of the torch, with Loc rhyming “Cube said it’s on me to take care of the coast.” After all, the man is G-Unit’s official west coast representative, a job he seems more than ready for.
Anyone hoping to pick up an album full of dope boy magic and drive-by shootings will be sorely disappointed. Loc is a self-proclaimed “poet that run the hood” who’s more likely to use soul samples than gunshots in his songs. SPI is an addictively funky track centered around a triumphant horn section and Loc’s wordplay-heavy flow. Plus the chorus declares he’s “bangadocious.” I don’t really know what that means, but I still have to agree. Hustle Till You Come Up puts a deep bass line and clapping percussion behind a piano hook and although it’s short, like many tracks on the album, Loc has plenty of time to recount the hard road that led him here. If Loc’s writing skills are his strength than his delivery is his weakness. His mid-tempo flow stays at the same pace throughout the album, from the shiningly soulful All I Know to the slowly pulsing ladies jam I Like. If Loc wants a platinum album, and I’m not sure he does, he’s gonna have to start stretching those vocal cords a little further.
Spider Loc won’t be a secret for long. If 50 puts G-Unit’s resources behind him Loc will have to figure out how to navigate his gang loyalties and mainstream hip-hop career (see Snoop for further details). In the meantime, West Kept Secret is exactly what it’s supposed to be, a solid but uneven album designed to get the streets talking. Feel free to blast it in your car, wherever you live, just remember; in some places the line between music and life is razor thin.
DJBooth Rating - 3.5 Spins
Written by Nathan S. on Sep 12, 2007
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