Special Teamz: Stereotypez

Special Teamz rep their city as hard as any rap crew that comes to mind. The difference though is that Edo G, Jaysaun, and Slaine big up Boston, an underrepresented city on Planet Rock. That’s not to say that Boston never birthed dope but rather that no one has ever really called proper attention to the city’s finest. With civic pride intact, Special Teamz chant anthemic hooks and spit hard in between, inviting everyone from anywhere to nod along. Stereotypez (Duck Down) is a pure vision, for those who like real rap boasts along with a page or two of everyday life. Before we go any further, threesome elder Edo G must get some due. This is the same Ed O.G. remembered for “Be a Father to Your Child” and “Love Comes and Goes,” thoughtful singles that received Yo! MTV Raps shine in the early 90s. Edo is still standing and as a third of Special Teamz, he uses his raspy voice to jump through rhymes with a newcomer’s speed, while at the same time keeping the group together with his veteran presence. Unlike many rappers from his era, he doesn’t condescend or preach, and better still, he strays from attempting to clone trendy styles or personas. Basically, he stays a true rapper, still trying to knock the shit out of any emcee out there. On “Fallen Angels,” Edo’s awareness meets his menace when he starts the verse with “I wish my pops didn’t pass when I was seven years old/If there’s life after death/Is heaven this cold” and deftly works his way into “Haters get molotoved, hauled off, blown, and tossed /Like Hamas/All I see is red sauce/Another hustler who’s a dead boss.” His focus is appreciated and it works. Special Teamz’ flow is athletic and agile and on many a track, each emcee rips internal rhythms and rhyme schemes across entire verses. Jaysaun packs his lyrics throughout and is especially guilty across DJ Premier’s “Main Event,” where he manages to drop in, “Jaysaun’s deep in your blind spot/But everyone can see what’s comin’/When your brain is on the sidewalk.” With the aforementioned Primo as well as Pete Rock and Marco Polo among those on the boards, the emcees are challenged to meet production that’s filled with a classicist’s in-your-face snares and kicks. The pleasant result is that most verses’ conclusions hit like an Air Max to the face while the emcees still stay as smooth as the Chocolate Boy Wonder’s bass sample on “Boston to Bucktown,” an album highlight with Sean Price and Buckshot.Slaine easily throws rhymes around too, and is at times reminiscent of a younger Eminem. This is not because they’re both white, just that their voices actually sound similar at points, both in the service of not giving a f*ck. As Em presumably gets as much Boston love as the New York Yankees, and a likely similar dearth from Slaine’s other collaborators, La Coka Nostra, it needs to be emphasized that the comparison is a compliment and also that Slaine truly has his own identity. When it comes to breaking down the pain he’s experienced and the trouble he’s seen, he drops Stereotypez’ most compelling lines. On “Story of My Life,” he shares, ”My arms was too short to reach for silence and peace/Hands were cut from broken dreams I used to find in the streets,” as he brings a drug addict’s cold world to vivid life. Slaine can be outrageous but also deadly real. Being on Duck Down isn’t a stretch. Special Teamz are reminiscent of the Brooklyn super crews of the 90s, in that they’re raw and lyrical, and don’t stray far from a minimal Hip-Hop ethos. The way those crews’ lyrics had a intrinsic Brooklyn flavor, the Special Teamz are those rap guys with green monster in their blood, producing mostly dope, “What’d he say?” rap, delivered next to some insightful but hard observations about their lives. They haven’t cluttered up the medium with stabs at radio, pretentious leanings, or trends, and instead offer up a knockin’ distillation for the home or headphones, and most likely a classic for the city they love. SOUNDCHECK:Special Teamz “Main Event”Special Teamz f/ Buckshot & Sean Price “Boston to Bucktown”