Who The What?! Jamal
February 2, 2007, 5:38 pm
Filed under: Album Reviews

Although I have seen this around relatively recently, it has been requested and it provides me with the opportunity to voice my opinion on the album and my somewhat controversial views about Def Squad. Originally paying his dues in kiddy rap outfit Illegal, Jamal is one of the few MCs of this ilk to have gone on to solo success. I think that ‘Last Chance, No Breaks’ is a solid effort, but there is something about it that means I rarely listen to it. Surprisingly, this is also the case for me with other albums from the Def Squad camp: more of that later.

The most notable single on the album is of course ‘Fades Em All’ which is perhaps more widely known in its ‘Pete Rock Remix’ format (I’ve included this in the zip). Both of these selections are excellent, with a different feel to them that works well in both contexts. This is matched by Jamal’s verses that demonstrate an obvious maturity that was understandibly a little lacking in his Illegal days; the flow is more comfortable and accomplished. There are other choice cuts here as well. I like the laid back feeling of ‘Keep It Real’ with its smooth piano sample and I also like the darker ‘The Game’ that has a slow but seriously head noddy vibe. If you are into Def Squad then I imagine that you will appreciate the majorty of the production on this album as it is instantly recognisable as Erick Sermon or Redman’s work behind the boards.

Now for the controversy. Although I own some of the seminal Def Squad releases, they have never really done that much for me. I wonder if this is perhaps because I did not have the opportunity to hear this music in the context in which it was originally released, but there has always been something about Sermon’s production style that hasn’t really connected with me. I want to stress that this is not an entirely educated position: I do not know this facet of hip hop music in perhaps the depth that I should. However, this in itself is indicative of the fact that I have not made the conscious effort to do so, and reflects my position on the crew’s output. I think the issue lies in the sample choices and vocoder effects that just don’t really do it for me. I am happy to be proven wrong and as I say this is perhaps simply due to a lack of consolidated knowledge of the crew, but still…

I’m sure that I’m going to get ripped to pieces for this… hit me up.

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