“Digital Smoke”May 23, 2007 at 4:57 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment
Kurupt & J. Wells
On the Left Coast, there is very little denying that Kurupt a.k.a. Young Gotti is an O.G., on the streets as well as the rap scene. After over a dozen solo and Dogg Pound Gang efforts and an impressive list of silver screen appearances to maintain his notoriety, Kurupt and Likwit affiliate J Wells’ “Digital Smoke” collabo album is proof that the former Death Row Vice Prez still got it. With guest appearances from Kurupt’s physical Young Roscoe, his fiancee Gail Gotti, and other Cali comrades from the Likwit Crew, this easily unnoticed goodie has an unmistakable family rather than industry feel to it. In my expert opinion, Digital Smoke is a new millenium herbal experience that is an above average attempt to mimic the epic Death Row debut, “The Chronic”.
It must be mentioned that the Likwit’s blue collar man behind the boards J. Wells’ ability to occasionally dominate the mic instead of just keeping up, enhances this well constructed project’s similarities to The Doctor’s post N.W.A. debut. All the way down to The Chronic’s trademark, weed toaking intros and interludes, Digital is a melodic trip that will keep you in a marijuana laced, nodding trance. Bud not included.
Kurupt and J. Wells successfully approach this project as a duo and display their mic handles equally over J. Wells’ exclusive, executive production. Mr. Wells set it off on the rhyme side of things on “All We Smoke”, letting everybody know that he’s next in line behind the people who molded his musical ear, like N.W.A., Snoop, and Dogg Pound. Young Roscoe definitely showed his ass and the listeners that skills run in the Brown family. Kurupt’s little bro said,’..Yo, what I look like?/she like, Yo, whats up Kurupt!I’m like, No bitch! Even though we look alike..’ on the horn ridden “I’m Just Sayin'”. He also showed off his Philly bred flow on “It’s Nothin'”, spittin’ darts like, ‘All these cigarettes got me huffin’ and puffin’/All my niggas, Yes, we be hustlin’ and strugglin’/All these infra-reds at my head got me duckin’/Red Bullet Vodka to the head got me buzzin’..’. The exceptional, yet noticeable West Coast electronic, P-Funk sounds invade joints like “Summertime”(which features Gail Gotti) and “Get It”(feat.Goodie Mob & Roscoe), which only enhances Wells’ production credibility. On “Smokin'”, DPG afilly Y.A. gets some lyrical excersize in along with J. and Kurupt with James DeBarge singing the hook on a track that was made for a ride in a old Chevy on 100 spokes down Crenshaw on a Friday night. “History” is another heat rock that boasts strong trumpets while a piano slices through the boom bap every four bars, just for Butch Cassidy to come through and do acrobatics on the beat. The album’s closer,”Let ‘Em Know” featuring the founders of the Likwit Crew, The Alkaholiks, is a prime example of pure, universal Hip Hop music that will go virtually unnoticed.
The variety of guests on the album added to it’s diversity, yet made it that much easier to compare to its predecessor. J. Wells does a supreme job in keeping the entire session uptempo, thus keeping the listener’s attention. A lot of the lyrical content was aimed at the strippers, hood rats, and gang banging rivals, however, all of the MCs well seasoned deliveries is enough to deter the average rival MC from looking for a come up. It’s likely that indie Bonzi Records(founded by J. Wells) won’t have the funds to give the promotion that Digital Smoke’s “limited edition” sound deserves, but if you keep your ears to the street, you’re bound to catch wind of this one. The complimenting styles of the L.A. O.G. passing the torch to the all or nothing emcee/producer is definitely gonna raise some eyebrows in this “all for self” industry.