Artist: Beanie SigelTitle: The B. ComingRating: 4 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Matt Barone
Not many MCs can introspect as poignantly as Beanie Sigel. Treating his albums like free-flowing journals, Sigel clearly pulls no punches in the booth. On The B. Coming (Dash Music/Def Jam) Beanie Mack removes the inner filter completely, bringing listeners so deep into his psyche that returning upon disc’s conclusion is compass worthy. Recorded during a turbulent time that wrapped with recent incarceration, the Philly advocate’s third album plays like a documentary at times, displaying the frames of mind he endured.
Aside from criminal records and jail sentences, Beanie Sigel is as real as any rapper in the game. Not necessarily in the sense of actually committing his audio misdemeanors, but real in the sense of giving himself fully to listeners. This genuine approach is particularly evident on the grim “Feel It In The Air;” rap’s most convincingly paranoid track since Scarface stared at candles and Bushwick Bill pounded pavement. On “Can’t Go On This Way,” Aqua’s piano sprinklings inspire further stressed-out commentary, with Beans candidly offering, “You feel like s### when you miss your son’s first s###, but who gon’ pay the bills? Supply the mils, no surplus/ My baby mama give me drama on the daily, like, she making it barely and the kids is eating rarely.” The dark mood lingers on with “Lord Have Mercy,” Sigel’s open letter to his higher authority, and “Tales Of A Hustler Pt. 2,” where Oschino and Sparks join their State Property captain for equally honest declarations of urban strife.
If The B. Coming was only concerned with Sigel’s pains, deluxe editions sporting Zoloft may have been necessary. Thankfully, your boy from Sigel Street’s infatuation with bleakness has its limits. Over Bink’s dizzying horn section on “One Shot Deal,” he matches Redman’s punchline assault with sharp wit such as, “I got the Roc on my back, SP all on my chain, shooters on the block slinging Peedi’s last name.” “Bread & Butter” finds him dismissing wifey alongside Sadat X and Grand Puba atop Just Blaze’s multi-layered array of strings and organs. Chad Hamilton’s militant percussion powering “Gotta Have It” makes Mack and guests Peedi Crack and Twista club-friendly, and the airy guitar plucks of “Purple Rain” turn the intoxicated musings of Sigel and Bun B extra influential.
With only one slight misstep (the sluggishly-paced “Oh Daddy”), The B. Coming’s main drawback is the excessive use of guest appearances. Only four joints here feature Sigel’s voice on the solo tip. When the cameos are as high-caliber as these, though, such co-starring is excusable. Whether alone or accompanied, Beanie Sigel keeps the quality factor high throughout. No matter what he’s becoming through this album, one facet of Beans remains the same: his breed of reality rap is the truth.