Rating: 8 / 10
One of the most memorable moments in Hip-Hop came with the introduction of the now classic animated series “The Boondocks.” The show was usually talked about and dissected by fans and critics to the tenth degree (and at times, it still is due to it’s multiple references to Hip-Hop and culture in general). By far, one of the standout moments of the three-season series takes place when a couple of the characters are discussing a plan to woo candy sellers to their side due to a business rivalry in its infant stages (Season 3, “The Fund-Raiser”). One of the characters mentions that they should try to offer better prizes or incentives, only to be shot down by a different character who states:
“That’s not what Beans would do. Beans would go to war.”
The same could be said about Beanie Sigel now, musically. After mostly holding his tongue throughout the majority of his tribulations, he’s finally opened up completely about his thoughts and feelings towards things in the rap game, via mixtape. Broad Street Empire Vol. 1 is a call back to simpler times when Beans was known for his witty punchlines and gritty delivery; in essence it’s the same Mack we vibed with when we thought the Roc-A-Fella Dynasty would last forever.
BSE starts off tough, and it paces itself well throughout to remain interesting for almost all of the 17 tracks. The first few songs have Sigel unloading the lyrical Mac (pun intended) as he showcases his hunger. The notable tracks at the beginning are special for a couple of reasons: “Show Must Go On” addresses the “glitches in the system” that led to the demise of the golden era of Roc-A-Fella/State Property run, but in a sudden switch Beans goes from introspective to all-out assault as he drops strong bars concerning two of Hip-Hop’s heavyweights during the second and third verses of “The Pay Back”:
“I got caught with a gat, they tried to roof a n*gga /
Offered me 30 flat for shootin a n*gga /
Shorty got caught with some hardware /
And he home already, somethin’ wrong there /
If I don’t see it I don’t say it, that’s how I play it /
I’m just sayin’ what they sayin’, but they scared to say it /
And I ain’t sayin’ holmes told, but tell me somethin’ /
Sh**, a silencer alone get you 20-somethin’ /
Am I right or am I wrong? I stand corrected /
The guidelines [are] the guidelines, no exceptions /
Whoever ridin’ with that s**t? Man, y’all tippin’ /
You can take it how you want n*gga, I’m rippin’…”
“…You were hyping me, inviting me, enticing me to rhyme /
Didn’t know at the time you were taking my lines /
Take off my coat, you were stealing my quotes /
Every line I was writing, you were biting ‘til the last note /
You take an idea, go in the booth and spill /
And make the world think the thought took years to build /
Still steal a rhyme after the next one /
Yeah, I think it’s ‘bout time that I check son…”
It shouldn’t be too hard to figure out who he’s addressing in the excerpts above. Although the rest of the project is relatively light on disses after that, it doesn’t reduce the song quality by any means. “B Boy Stance” has Beans dropping several references to prove his point, and “Mack B***h” features Sean Anthony and is somewhat reminiscent of the old school sounding tracks such as Curtis Mayfield’s “Pusherman”, but there’s nothing quite like hearing State Property and company rap together again. Thankfully for five of the last six songs we’re treated to that, and it’s as if none of them had lost a step lyrically.
The project isn’t perfect by any means (some of this is due to the hit-and-miss production on a few songs), and most of the tracklisting doesn’t exactly feel like “songs” in the traditional sense. This is a mixtape through and through, but if anything has been learned from Broad Street Empire Vol. 1, we know that this project serves its purpose for two things: it fulfills that itch some may have had for the type of rap that was being served in the days of the Roc, and it shows that Beans is back and never lost his step lyrically. With this project serving as the precursor to his upcoming album “The Classic”, Beans has set the bar high out of the gate. Long story short, the Mack is back, and it’s not farfetched to hope he continues to impress with his next LP due to the quality street rap he’s providing here, but only time will tell.
You can download Broad Street Empire Vol. 1: Lost Files here.