Artist: Erick SermonTitle: Chilltown New YorkRating: 3 StarsReviewed by: Javid
Is hip hop really a different form of rap music? Ask the average rapper in the game for longer than a decade and their answer will probably go something like, “man, these young cats don’t know about hip hop…this started in the parks. Run DMC, Rakim, KRS, and Herc, that’s hip hop!” Now ask your average cd purchaser, let’s say a white 17 year old from Denver and his answer would probably go something like, “I don’t know but that new Fab with Christina Milian…that’s the hardest record out.” Then we have Chilltown New York-where you can still stunt with a CRX, rock fatigues with one leg up, put a house speaker in your trunk-the title of Erick Sermons latest release. Continuing a run longer than Forest Gump, E Dub is back giving us what we expect from perhaps the most bitten rapper/producer in rap music, uncompromising style.
Break dancers get off your ass, for “EE’s” the closest thing you’ll hear on Chilltown to a bouncy track, featuring Sermon using creative wordplay to show us how he does this “with ease.” One of the illest songs on the album, “Street Hop” features Redman effortlessly flowing over a bassline deeper than a NYC pothole and a cut up Nas sample. Funk Doc is in rare form when he rhymes “I’m no joke/ this ain’t Hanna Barbera/ it’s the Bricks Mandela, on Anteras.” Without a doubt, the Green Eyed Bandit can hold his own, but the album’s strongest hits are those with featured artist such as “Chillin’” with Talib Kweli. Of the aforementioned, The Audio Two’s Milk and Giz would be proud of the work E Dub does resurrecting and interpolating their classic “Top Billin’”, keeping it gully for all the heads in Brooklyn.
Unfortunately, despite strong guest appearances and above par production that will have you adjusting your rear view, Chilltown finishes like George Foreman in the twelfth (you do the math). Although we hate to admit it, 13 tracks of hard hitting, B-boy street records begin to seem repetitious. At least in ‘94 you had to flip the tape, but as the cd plays on the second half is noticeably weaker even with guest spots from Funk Doc, Mr. Murray, and Sermon’s latest prodigy Sy Scott. By far the albums weakest cut features a sampled Sean Paul reciting “Feel It” (the songs title) a cross between “Music” and “Gimme the Light”, that will have you wishing for a real Supercat comeback.
Erick Sermon knows the rap game, and sums it up best when he raps on “Chillin’”, “Yep, he sold more records but son suck, call me washed up, yeah talk about me/ I sound like me, you sound like Jay-Z.” There is no doubt the E Dub fully understands that going this route will guarantee less sales and popularity, but at his stage in the game and with those rims (yes, pre Funk Flex) he doesn’t seem to mind. Sermon even ridicules himself in a Matrix skit where taking a blue pill guarantees less sales like himself, Smilez and Southstar (WHO?!) and taking the red pill guarantees you a wonderland with sales like Rubben Studdard and Hillary Duff. Although this new decade of hip hop has us on the G-4, with the Etro shirt and Evisu jeans, everybody has that pair of yellow Timbs, and when you lace those up, roll thru Chilltown.