Artist: Clinton SparksTitle: Maybe You Been BrainwashedRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Bill “Low-Key” Heinzelman
Clinton Sparks has made a name for himself by out-working the competition. Last year, the Boston native became the first DJ to have a weekly live radio show on three different stations in three different states. Not to mention his work at Sirius Satellite Radio for Eminem’s Shade 45. Oh yeah, he also does mixtapes as well. As you can tell Clinton Sparks is a busy man who is doing everything he can to make people “get familiar”. The only thing Clinton has yet to do is drop an official album that the likes of DJ Clue & Kay Slay have done. But you knew that was only a matter of time, as now Clinton Sparks is set to release Maybe You Been Brainwashed (Fastlife/Koch Records) which acts as a precursor to his official debut Get Familiar Vol. 1.
While DJ albums have always been hit or miss projects, Maybe You Been Brainwashed is a cohesive mixtape with stellar production from Clinton himself. You can tell Clinton has taken time to master his craft, as the variety of Hip-hop heavyweights sound at home on his vigorous production. The Biggie “Kick In The Door” sampled “Run This City” finds P.Diddy as aggressive as ever, ferociously addressing haters and doubters alike with lines such as, “Y’all niggas don’t wanna see me fly, you killed Biggie, y’all niggas seen my cry. That ain’t enough? Y’all wanna see me die?”
Even Fabolous sounds hungry with “Still Can’t Deny It”, the dark sequel to his 2001 smash hit. Clinton’s arrangement of screeching violins, handclaps, and heavy bass gives Fab one of his best tracks. The Infamous Mobb Deep also ends up on the receiving end of a Clinton Sparks heat rock, with the gun-blasting backdrop of “Okay Dun”. However, the album’s true gem is when Joe Budden bears his soul on the brutally honest “Whatever It Takes”. While the original version featured Joey rocking over the Young Gunz “Tough Luv” beat, Clinton Sparks remixes the track with his own brand of chipmunk soul.
Maybe You Been Brainwashed is a consistent album for the most part, but it still features some filler material. The nonsensical ramblings of N.O.R.E. and Nature on “Let It Go” will only have you scratching your head in confusion. Lil Flip’s syrupy flow and frivolous lyrics on “Underground Legend” makes for more material that is skippable. While The Flipmode Squad’s “Get Down” and “Buck On Em” by Freeway and Mully Man are more average tracks.
The album is an entertaining mixtape that succeeds due to great production and big named features. Even though filler material holds it back from being truly great, the album’s gems shine bright. If you have slept on Clinton Sparks the past couple of years, now is a better time than ever to get ahead, because chances are you will be hearing a lot from him in the future.