Smif N Wessun: The Album

Since their inception Smif N Wessun have been a vital piece of one of rap’s most talented, yet underappreciated crews, the Boot Camp Click. Over the years the BCC has boasted a team of hard-knock emcees such as Sean Price, Buckshot, O.G.C. and Heltah Skeltah. All have collectively or individually helped to push the team’s trademark gritty street sound that has become their own personalized sonic boot stomp on the face of mainstream Hip-Hop. Unfortunately with Smif N Wessun’s latest release The Album (Duck Down), the lack of urgency and fire in Tek and Steele’s rhymes married with uneven production results in a project that falls short of the mark set by their previous releases. The change in production (Ken Ring is credited with handling the bulk of production duties) since their last album Reloaded is instantly recognizable on the first track “See The Light.” The PNC’s trade verses about violence, loss, love and regret over a bouncy but dated beat that doesn’t do any justice in helping them kick the album off with the grimy heater you might have expected. Tek and Steele pay respect to their classic album Dah Shinin’ with the updated “K.I.M. 2000”. This track provides relief as it acts as a reminder that the duo are still the same gritty emcees they were years ago. Both “Can’t Stop” and “Yeah” would be a perfect fit for perhaps Slim Shady or even Ludacris. With these Brooklyn vets however, it ends up sounding strained. Another strong track (and possibly the best) on the album is “Stomp Thru” featuring Joell Ortiz and Heltah Skeltah’s Rock on the chorus. The track has Timberland bootprints all over it as Steele explains how he takes care of his problems: “I keep a .40 underneath the thermal/And a leather pair of throwaway gloves/So it’s /No prints, no body, no judge!” If Tek and Steele would have added more joints that beg for a reload, instead of concentrating on furthering their experimentation with a more mainstream sound, The Album certainly would have been a nice addition to the Boot Camp canon. As artists continue to grow and progress, the listener can’t expect the exact same thing they loved hearing years ago. However they can ask that they adhere to a simple rule of thumb, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”SOUNDCHECK: