The Unusual Suspects

Artist: The Unusual SuspectsTitle: The Unusual SuspectsRating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Martin A. Berrios

Remember when New York Hip-Hop had no equal? Even though the music was based on a local five-borough experience, it was so powerful that it was able to represent an entire nation of fledging b-boys and b-girls. With the West Coast dominating in the 90's and the more recent Dirty South explosion, the spotlight doesn't shine on the Big Apple as much anymore. Here to aid in the restoration process are The Unusual Suspects. Comprised of former Def Jam draft pick Jinx Da Juvy, underground journeyman Ike Dirty, and newcomer Slash, on The Unusual Suspects (Teflon Musik) the Brooklyn collective display their version of the triangle offense.

On the introductory "Not Me," the three MC's make their indelible ambition apparent. Cue On Cue of "Baltimore Love Thing" fame, cooks up some somber guitar licks reminiscent of "My Mind Is Playing Tricks On Me" to compliment the commentary. Jinx steps up and gives the listener an insider look on how he is built on "Juvy Mack." He expresses his heartache of getting played by a love interest and informs the listener on the hard truth of being state property, over a melodic piano driven DJ Nu production. "Trust me, them pens ain't what's up/ spending the rest of your life in them mountains, that don't make you tough/ even the toughest niggas don't want to go back/but if you get knocked, oh well you got to hold that", he introspectively explains.

By breaking down the in and outs of his hustle, Slash proves he is no slouch either on "Put In Work." The subtle but apparent emotion makes the solo one of the stronger cuts on the album. On the group's official first single "Smack Your Head Off", the boys get on a crunk tip. DJ Nu comes back some with heavy synthesization production wise. Slash sets off the song, Ike follows up nicely by switching up with a double time flow, and Juve seals the deal with a gritty sixteen.

Although the crew's self titled debut album is a group effort, it doesn't always come across as such. The MC's only appear only roll crew deep on three songs, leaving the five skits as undesired. Additionally, Ike flagrantly bites Jay-Z's infamous staggered "December 4th" flow on the album's closer "Abused."

Nitpicking aside, the Unusual Suspects have really put their best foot forward. It seems with time it should only get better.