Artist: J. PeriodTitle: Man On Fire: The Freestyle Sessions (Mixtape)Rating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Jason Hortillas
The name CL Smooth has not been in many ears since the mid to late 90s. CL, one half of the legendary Pete Rock & CL Smooth, created gems including their classic, “They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.)”. Although his most recent appearance was on Pete Rocks Soul Survivor sequel, the Mecca Don links up with mixtape maker J. Period on this 18 track mixtape project. Period has worked with many heavyweights in the industry, even dragging Lauryn Hill out of hiding for a two volume “best of” series. This time around Period resurrects another legend through the Mount Vernon native on Man On Fire: The Freestyle Sessions.
Alluding to the 2004 Denzel Washington film of the same title, CL Smooth attempts to do the same on the mic, surprisingly succeeding in the process. Officially breaking ties with Pete Rock, CL shines on his own drawing from his golden era roots as well as showing young bucks he can still hang. Instead of using already exhausted freestyle instrumentals, the song selection is evidently eclectic. Using classics such as “The Return of the Crooklyn Dodgers”, and A Tribe Called Quests “Electric Relaxation”, you can expect CL to hold is own on beats made during his prime.
The shift comes when you hear an edgier CL on instrumentals from The Game and Scarface, where he tries out new cadences and rhyme schemes. Although the change is apparent, it is obvious that he shines best on a Pete Rock track. The result may leave the listener empty when “reminiscing” on days of old. It is somewhat strange that you see a mixtape with CL Smooths name stamped on the cover.
Rather than a project like this, his talent is best served on an LP format. Diehard fans that have been waiting for years are now salivating for that solo joint to finally be released. A mixtape’s main function is to create a buzz for the artist and J Period has succeeded in putting CL Smooths name back into public consciousness.