DJ Envy & Red Café: The Co-Op

Since splitting with his original group Da Franchise, Brookyln’s own Red Café has maintained his name on the streets mostly through mixtapes while his official solo debut The Shakedown is on the way via Akon’s Konvict Music.  For the time being he’s teamed up with DJ Envy to release The Co-Op (Koch); a “warm-up” record to prime the streets for what’s to come. Hopefully this is just an opportunity for Red to stretch his legs before the big event. Otherwise, the future may not be so bright for the hard-working MC.Not really a mixtape; The Co-Op is really more of a Red Café and friends album. Red is only an average rapper at best, so where Co-Op does most resemble a mixtape is its reliance on production and heavy collaboration. Consistent MCs like Fabolous help otherwise average tracks like “Dolla Bill,” and Remy Ma keeps it gutter as always, stealing the show from Red on “What It Do?” Furthermore, Nina Sky’s typically perfect vocals inject some life into the softer “Things You Do”. Without the girls, this lead single would’ve been just another so-so, obligatory song for the ladies.The Co-Op has its moments.  Those moments come too easily to really give Café and Envy much credit though. Styles P. is one of the finest MCs of the day, so it’s not a shock that he can elevate the quality of “Move Like A G”. The bigger tests come when Red is left to stand on his own.  While he doesn’t fail, he doesn’t exactly excel either.  Leaning on the usual New York rapper conventions that have been done better; “Shakedown 4 Life” comes with a sped-up soul sample with lots of cymbals and rhymes about paper-chasing. Even on “Ghetto Children” where the tempo is switched slightly for a reggae flavor, the result still comes off as formulaic. Red Café as an MC is basically what happens when you take Fabolous and subtract the wit that usually makes up for his lack of depth.While this project isn’t the worst thing you’ll hear this year, The Co-Op is hardly worth going out of your way for. It just doesn’t impress; especially in today’s crowded market. It may be enough to keep his reputation high enough to make his true album; but on its own, “okay” pretty much sums it up.SOUNDCHECK:


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