Artist: Special EdTitle: Still Got It MadeRating: 2 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Martin A. Berrios
Do the math yourself, few songs are able to capture the true essence of our culture and at the same time be hot enough to be considered a classic. Before the bling and the stuntin’, Special Ed pulled this off in 89’ when he boasted “I Got It Made.” The success of the single and his debut album Youngest in Charge provided Ed with the type of momentum that usually gives birth to Hip-Hop royalty. Due to a lengthy five-year layoff between his second (Legal) and third (Revelations) album, Special Ed failed to capitalize off this opportunity. Now Ed returns on a new album, its title a play off his first hit. Still Got It Made (Semi) is more a reflection of Ed’s personal growth, rather than his bank statements.
From the jump, it is clear that this Crooklyn Dogder has better things on his mind to express than your average rapper. Ed opens up his inner monologue on the introspective “Special.” He spits about the darker side of today’s current events over a piano driven track. “To everybody that got shot by detectives/ to everybody not eating breakfast/to all my soldiers that are not leaving in stretchers/when did we stop seeking perfection?” he asks. Ed is able to switch up the mood though on the Soopafly produced “All Nite All Day.” He sounds at home over feel good production.
Unfortunately Ed does seem lyrically rusty for most of this album. His flows seem uninspired and lackadaisical, at times making the listening experience more of a task than luxury. On “Who’s The Man,” the Brooklyn bred MC’s choppy delivery sounds out of place on the bass flavored production. Furthermore, Ed drops the ball on “I Know You.” He aims for a radio friendly hit for the ladies, but falls short due to the track’s shiny suit era inspired production. The cheesy lyrics don’t help the situation either: “It ain’t to hard to tell that you want me/cuz you looking at me like you hungry/and my first name ain’t baloney/last name either/so glad to meet ya.”
Still Got It Made also suffers from it’s weak production. Special Ed puts in some work behind the boards, as well as enlisting the help of his former producer Howie Tee in an effort to recreate their previous magic. The effort is for naught, as most of the beats are bland, unable to help Ed’s monotonous style. Also missing is a New York feel to this album; as some grittier samples and harder drum patterns could have been a better musical compliment. Ed only sounds comfortable when the spotlight is taken off him and pointed at his guest appearances. Snoop easily steals the show on “We Gon’ Ride,” making Ed sound like he was the one keeping the Doggfather company.
Unfortunately Special Ed is a shadow of his former self. With only a handful of promising joints on an album that is only twelve tracks deep, Still Got It Made is disappointing to say the least. This attempt at a comeback is so out of touch, even faithfyl old school purists will be wondering if Ed still has it.