This was one of the albums that some hip-hop connoisseurs thought would take the path of Dr. Dre's Detox: never seeing the light of day. But here we are, looking at the pending release of one of the most awaited hip-hop albumsw in recent history. When looking at the track list for the album, some might wonder if it would even be possible to make a coherent, cohesive product. Would this possibly monumentous work end up being an over-hyped group of tracks with all-stars forcefully thrown onto tracks for publicity's sake?
And while some emcees do in fact drop the ball in my opinion, the overall album manages to provide the very cohesion I doubted was possible with a guest list of over 20. Even the tracks that might have lackluster verses are saved, of course, by production from one of the era's greatest. There are no tracks you can truly skip over. Don't forget, this is the producer who even made Lil B the Based God sound almost intelligent for half a verse.
It's awesome to a hip-hop historian such as myself seeing old-school meeting new-school on tracks such as "Enjoy," in which West Coast O.G. Warren G links up with young guns Murs and Kendrick Lamar to trade metaphors and reflect on their individual philosophies. One of my favorite songs, 20 Feet Tall, was previously released by Erykah Badu, and while adding the Rapsody verse to the song was a good move, it didn't equal the excitement of the original release. You know how it goes.
I still would have loved to see Mos Def and Jean Grae on the tracklist, given their long history together. But overall, the artist selection was on point. The Marsha Ambrosius track is fire, and deserves to go major as a single in its own right. I think "Never Stop Loving You" might be Talib Kweli's most mainstream-able track in recent memory, and one of his best period. And yes, that is Raekwon on track 13 over 9th Wonder's modern, jazzy rehashing of a Wu Tang beat.
9th has put together a wonderful portfolio for himself, with an excellent variety of his signature production combined with artists that provide targeted brushstrokes to add flair to the canvas of his instrumentals. Those who have loved his work from previous productions will be satisfied again.