Riot Musik

Artist: Junior M.A.F.I.A.Title: Riot MusikRating: 2 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Orisanmi Burton

Ten years after the release of their debut album Conspiracy, Junior M.A.F.I.A. have some B.I.G. shoes to fill. For starters, the late great Christopher Wallace was the motley crew’s rhyme guru. His charisma on hit singles “Get Money” and “Player’s Anthem” was undeniably the presence that made those songs memorable. Secondly, the octet has thinned down to a trio. Most noticeable is the absence of Lil’ Kim, the group’s star player who basically defected in ‘96 as her solo career jumped off. Now with Lil’ Cease in the driver’s seat, accompanied by Klepto and Banger, the M.A.F.I.A. re-up with Riot Musik (Mega Media).

The fifteen track LP has a couple of choice cuts that may end up blaring through car stereo speakers. “Gaup”, the formulaic – albeit catchy – ode to dead presidents is the album’s best offering. The laid-back production provided by Sebb is anchored by a mesmerizing baseline which sets this track above the rest. As the opening act, Lil’ Cease drops sufficient lines like, “These little niggas huggin the block with ready rock/ 50 pack of felonies riskin’ they freedom for gaup”. Minnesota, Eddie Cheeba and Trey of Boss Money can also be heard trading tales of monetary pursuit on this one. “Die Anyway” featuring Jadakiss is Riot Muik’s other highlight. The sinister chorus summarizes the theme. “You can ball all day but still gonna die any way”. Jada’s raspy delivery on the second verse steals the show; “A lot a niggas in the game is cheating/ That’s between them and God though/ I’m just gonna arrange the meeting”.

Unfortunately, these two tracks alone are not enough to save Riot Musik from mediocrity. The remainder of the album is sadly sub par. Ultimately, Junior MAFIA has fallen victim to the sophomore slump. What little semblance of chemistry they displayed on Conspiracy has all but vanished. What is left behind sounds like we’ve heard it all before. For future reference, if your subject matter is limited to money, hoes, cars and clothes, at the very least make it interesting to listen to.

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