The Chain Gang Vol. II

Artist: State PropertyTitle: The Chain Gang Vol. IIRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Jayson Rodriguez

Beanie Sigel is turning into quite the executive. Following in the footsteps of his mentor, Jay-Z, Beans is diversifying his hip-hop portfolio with a clothing line, and also by developing a cartoon based on the Roc. However, just like Jigga, the foundation for Sigel is music and foremost the artists he puts out on his Criminal Background imprint. With the release of State Property presents: Chain Gang, Vol. II, Sigel’s crop of Philly-bred rappers are signing their own Declaration of Independence, and making a claim as the next dynasty in waiting.

On “It’s On,” a head-nodding, somber slow burner produced by D.Dot, Hov and Sigel trade nostalgia inducing verses before Jay endorses Sigel as the label’s next emperor. “Young Vito/ voice of the young people/ if my life is a movie/ then Sig is gon’ be the sequel.” Upstart Peedi Crakk continues to impress following his turn riding shotgun with Freeway on “Flipside.” He scores on the sinisterly tinged “Temporary Relief,” in his sing song flow: “I’m running with The Roc/ and my handle is sick.” With no contributions from Just Blaze or Kanye West, there are only a couple traces of the sped-up soul production over-popularized by the Roc the past couple years. And the usually reliable Alchemist misses on that with the uneven “Still In Effect,” featuring Freeway and Neef.

Though the album boasts certifiable club bangers like the Young Gunz’s percolating “Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop,” and an excellent update of BDP’s classic “Criminal Minded,” by Young Chris and Peedi Crakk, State Property fails to consistently deliver given its talented roster. Freeway stalls with a mundane flow on “Rolling Down the Freeway,” with uninspired lines like: “Who you with ma/ Freeway too legit to quit/ not too legit to spit crimes.” And on the southern flavored “Blow,” Oschino, Sparks and Chris spin fantasy filled coke tales in awkward cadences that stop the bounce more than a dead spot on the parquet floor of the old Boston Garden.

If Sigel’s foray into the boardroom is going to be as successful as S.Carter’s, he’s going to have to be shrewder on song selection. Mistakes like a solo track by Oschino, rather than one by Beans himself, or Peedi Crakk is bad business strategy. Ultimately it’s these decisions made with the white collar on that will reveal if his blue-collard boys’ dynasty will be more like Blake Carrington, or more like Ming.