Filed under: Album Reviews
Living just across the street from Pharoah Monch in Queens, O.C. began his career in hip hop as a friend and collaborator of Organized Konfusion. Contributing a verse to the O.K. classic ‘Fudge Pudge’, Omar Credle ultimately landed himself a deal with Wild Pitch and this led to his certified classic ‘Word…Life’ being released in ’94. This is one of my favourite albums of the era with banger after banger, not least the incredible ‘Time’s Up’ produced by none other than Buckwild.
However, today’s post is focussed on his sophomore release ‘Jewelz’. Understandably I couldn’t wait to check this after O.C.’s debut and the production roster promises much: Premier, Ogee, Buckwild and Da Beatminerz. This is an impressive team to say the least, and it should should mean that this release is every bit as good as ‘Word…Life’. Unfortunately I have always felt that this album lacks something, despite solid beatmaking and O.C.’s intelligent and well delivered rhymes; ultimately ‘Jewelz’ leaves me feeling a little disappointed.
Of course, this is not to say that the album doesn’t have some highlights. ‘M.U.G.’ sees O.C. team up with Freddie Foxxx and the pair rip through their verses with style over my favourite Premier beat on the album. I like the rolling pianos of ‘You And Yours’ which are paired with a crisp snare hit that give the track a pleasingly eerie feel. Despite it’s cheesy chorus hook, I do also like ‘Can’t Go Wrong’ although I would expect that this may just be one of those instances of personal preference that is not matched by popular opinion. Generally the beats are good but they just aren’t great, which is a disappointment given the pedigree of beatmaker on this album.
O.C.’s rhyming ability is formidable matching a measured and fluid delivery with content that is engaging and intelligent. He sounds best on the more laid back cuts such as ‘The Chosen One’ where his eloquent verse feels like it floats above the beat below. You can hear a definite link between O.C.’s style and his old rhyming buddies Prince Po and Pharoah Monch: the lines weave around each other in complex rhythmical patterns and there are phrases like ‘the ancient ruins of rap’ that give his rhymes a vaguely mystical feeling that is entrancing.
Ultimately it is a shame that Credle was not able to duplicate the sheer quality of his debut with ‘Jewelz’. Don’t get me wrong, this is a good album, but I think that the benchmark had simply been set so high by ‘Word…Life’ that this was always going to be a disappointment. It’s still one of the better releases from ’97, but if you’re expecting another dose of classic material then be warned: you may not find it here.