This is Now!

Artist: Craig-GTitle: This is Now!Rating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Paine

Craig-G is one of the fiercest MC’s to ever grip a mic. A legendary battle figure, a hip-hop pioneer as a card carrying member of Marley Marl’s Juice Crew and recently a ghostwriter to many of the battle raps in Eminem’s “8 Mile” blockbuster; Craig-G is an icon. One of the first rappers to thoroughly rep Queensbridge before it was in vogue, he returns with This is Now!

Appropriately titled, This is Now! is Craig’s first full LP in over a decade. Full of messages, Craig devotes tracks to hip-hop restoration, relationships, as well as a bulk of bragging tracks that question why anybody could forget about him. The standout track is “Dribble or Shoot” featuring Afu-Ra and the Human Orchestra. Craig’s delivery is rock solid over The Human Orchestra complex beat-boxing and vocal scratching. With Afu-Ra dropping a knocker, the hook seals the deal: “This right here for sure will leave you scoreless, haters in the back they will have to applaud this, we did all and strong don’t even need the chordless, you after this loot? Nigga dribble or shoot!” Craig uses veteran tactics evident in the superb storytelling of “Damn This Day.” Craig closes the LP with a special feature: an accapella freestyle medley. Craig includes the cadence, the piston-like rhymes, and even the mistakes. When you hear it, your mouth is guaranteed to drop like pigeon sh*t.

If a veteran’s resurrection isn’t enough for you, the producers are listed on the credits with good reason; Marley Marl, DJ Premier, Large Professor, Beatminerz, Nottz, and Rockwilder, need more? Interesting, newcomer and associate producer DJ Sage brought some of the most interesting beats on the record. Also, This is Now! and Gang Starr’s upcoming The Ownerz were the last albums to be completed in the now defunct D&D Studios. Thus, this record has special meaning on many levels.

The album possesses every color on the “true hip-hop” palette. There are tracks like “Now That’s What’s Up” that belong in the club, joints like the lead single “Let’s Get Up” that appeal to every purist and gems like “Love is Love” and “Words are Warbucks” that are too rugged for any DJ not to spin at a basement party. This is Now! consistently showcases Craig’s comfort on the mic, superior delivery and which when couple with its steady production will quiet “Just a freestyler” rumblings. In the modern hip-hop trend of big budgets and heavy guest lists, this record will hold up against anything out there.