The Lyricist Lounge as a concept started way back in 1991 by Danny Castro and Anthony Marshal as a platform for underground cats to show off their skills to potential signers. Bush Babees, Educated Rapper and Bush Babees all made appearances at the first night. The first album, Volume 1, came out in 1998, providing us listeners with a variety of talents from lyricists on the rise. This album was true to the concept, bringing us a mix of underground heads with nice, Rawkus type production. The beats were slammin’, the rhymes were nothin but ill, and the album was a success. It achieved what it wanted to achieve. I got a promo tape with a couple records I had bought and it seemed ok, so I went and bought the latest installment of Lyrical Lounging.
1998 – First Lyricist Lounge album was out with real underground heads representin’.
Well, in “Volume 2” it seems to all have gone horribly wrong. We’ve all heard of peeps like Beanie Sigel, Big L, Macy Gray (sigh), Q-Tip and Prodigy. And we all know these guys are tight. Only thing is, there’s not a hint of underground in them. The biggest track from this album ‘Oh No’ is a perfect example of the album’s direction. Full of well known, succesful artists such as Mos Def, Pharoahe Monch and Nate Dogg, who all have had their fair share of the underground, but could hardly be said to be unsigned. Now I’m not trying to suggest that this album is lyrically wack and that the mainstream emcees affect the album. But the expectations I had were left unfounded. Production on most tracks save a few is poor. It’s mostly monotonous and hardly inspiring. I was expecting some different, head noddin’ beats, complimented by some unsigned, aspiring artists. Instead I was left feeling like I’d just heard everything on the album before. It feels to me like Rawkus saw the oppurtunity to make a lot of cash by slapping pretty much every well known, respected artists from Biggie to the Dilated Peoples on an album and just layin’ a few beats for them to rhyme over. If the album was just about lyrics and rhymin’ ability, it could have just left us a note in the case sayin’ “look at who we got on our compilation and figure out whether this is gonna be lyrically sound”. Mos, Nate and Pharoahe are cool, but did they belong on this album?
I got love for Rawkus. Cats like Mos, Talib, Hi-Tek and Pharoahe are all signed to them, and the respective artists are complimentary to a stagnant, slowly commercialising game. Lyricists like these guys are few and far between. However, if we don’t get to hear anything from anyone else but guys like this, how am I meant to know who to choose. The underground is more vast than you could imagine, with a huge amount of talent being missed out on. If Rawkus had bothered to sift through some of this, we could have been left with an idea of where to look when thinking “I wanna buy some underground tracks, who should I go for?”. The concept of the Lyricist Lounge has been thrown out of the window as far as I’m concerned, and to be honest, I’m disappointing. If you’re gonna buy it…. don’t. Get something else. 2000 – Disappointing album? Well yes… yes it is.
1. 16 Bars – Notorious B.I.G. (live)
2. Oh No – Mos Def/Pharoahe Monch/Nate Dogg
3. Makin’ It Blend – Q-Tip/Words
4. Get Up – Cocoa Brovaz
5. Get That Dough – Beanie Sigel
6. Let’s Grow – Royce Da 5’9″
7. Ms. Fat Booty (Pt. 2) – Mos Def/Ghostface Killah
8. W.K.Y.A. – Redman/Saukrates
9. Sharp Shooters – Talib Kweli/Dead Prez
10. Legendary Street Team – Kool G Rap/M.O.P.
11. Grimy Way, The – Big Noyd/Prodigy
12. Battle – Erick Sermon/Sy Scott
13. Interlude – Da Cipha/Punch/Cobra Red/Planet Asia/Guilty(Consequence & Menace)/Phil Da Agony
14. Still Here – Big L/C-Town
15. Right And Exact – Dialated Peoples
16. He Lives – Last Emperor/RZA
17. Watcha – Master Fuol/JT Money/Pastor Troy
18. I’ve Committed Murder – Macy Gray/Mos Def (Gang Starr remix)
19. Live At The Lounge – Q-Tip (outro)
Reviewed By Hip Hop Network for HipHopHotSpot.Com