Cali Life Style - Tell It Like It Is

Cali Life Style - Tell It Like It Is Chicano Rap

The first Chicano Rap group I have ever heard was Cali Life Style. I was about 4 years old being a "travieso" (troublemaker) going through my fathers and uncles tapes. I popped in C.L.S "Mexican Invasion" and it blew my mind. Many years later, I was reminiscing on C.L.S, and wondered what they have been up to. I later found out that they have released a few more albums. I went on LimeWire and YouTube and downloaded their tracks from the albums I was missing and if you were to remember LimeWire in the early 2000's, you couldn't find everything on there and sometimes you would download a track with Bill Clinton saying he did not inhale but he downloaded MP3s from this one website. I went to Chicano Park this year, to celebrate Chicano Park Day, which was on 4/22/2018 and I bought some Chicano Rap CDs. I bought Proper Dos "Overdose" Royal T "For the 619", Brownside "The Take Over" and C.L.S "Tell It Like It Is". When I was cruising back home from the 619 back to the 714, I put in C.L.S "Tell it Like It Is" and it blew my mind. Just like the first time I heard them back when I was 4 years old.

01. Get Higher
"There ain't no party like a West coast party cause a West coast Party don't stop. I'mma drop the top, blaze a fat joint and make the front of the Chevrolet hop (what what what)" The opening line captivated me and it has set the tone for the album. On top of that, the beat is smooth and funky. DJ Dominator is also on the hook. The flow is great on top of their lyricism, but the lyrics are controversial (at least to me). I just have a personal problem with certain drugs, as it ruined my friends and my some of my family members lives. One of the drugs they glorify and say they use is tweak (meth) "Silver juice". It really spoils the song for me, but the beat, the flow and the lyrics aren't bad. When I first listened to the song I didn't catch it as their flows, their deliveries, and on top of the great beat; really distracts you from the subject matter. It would have been a 9.5 if it wasn't for their mention of meth.
8/10

02. Below Zero
Delux starts of the track hard. With his sharp, high pitched voice (similar to Eazy-E's) with his perfect flow and delivery. T-Dre comes in next, with his more mellow (slightly deeper) high pitched voiced but with the same high energy that impacts the beat like the first meteorite hitting the Earth. T-Dre follows up with another verse with Delux on the ad-libs. This really shows off their dynamics as a group. The chemistry that they both have is quite remarkable. The beat is good, dark and heavy but funky. I think this beat is used to help show off their lyrical capabilities and their chemistry as a group.
9.5/10

03. The Night Is Right
This song really describes California, the dark side and the party life. Also, about money like most rap songs. The yin and the yang of California city life. The song is sample heavy but I can't remember the sample but it is familiar. There is a female on the chorus. I have never been a big fan of female choruses on Rap tunes (even singing in Rap, not many people can pull it off), but this one really sounds great. The female on the chorus has a great voice, and the chorus is short and sweet. The female doesn't seem to want to be the center of attention, but as an instrument to help compliment the song. It sounds very relaxing, which compliments the beat and also contrasts Delux's and T-Dre's flow and energy. The Yin and Yang.
9/10

04. Southern Cali
This song is good, and samples "Heartbreaker Part 1 and 2" by Zapp which has also been sampled by L.B.C Crew in their song "Beware Of My Crew". The song has a gangster theme. Delux and T-Dre represent their varrio, their city, and area code the 805. This song is mostly about gang life in California. It is nothing special in terms of uniqueness, its the same subject matter you hear in most G-Funk.
8/10

05. Backstreets
I absolutely love DJ Quik's "Tonite" which samples "Tonight" by Kleer. Delux and T-Dre both showed that they can also make a classic with the same sample . I can't stress enough that T-Dre and Delux are Chicano Rap's dynamic duo. One of the most underrated elites in the Chicano Rap scene (or rap in general). They sample Dr. Dre's voice "creepin' in the back streets" and ALT's "have you ever rolled in a low ride?" for the hook which blends in perfectly.
9.5/10

06. What's Up Girl
I always skip this song. Not because it isn't a good song, I just really never liked lover boy songs, especially in rap. If I wanted to listen to a romantic song, I would listen to R&B and/or Oldies (Doo Wop). The production is good, T-Dre and Delux both lower their energy to match a "romantic" vibe. The track pretty much criticizes women who don't enjoy them hanging out with their homies more than their partners and also about their life as musicians as it distracts them, or I should say, keeps them busy and away from their partners. Pretty much "baby, I love you but if you don't like me for the way that I am... well... bye." This song samples "Sweet Thing" by Rufus & Chaka Khan.
7/10

07. Too Smooth
This song has the same tempo as the last track, but Delux and T-Dre bring their energy back. Not at 100 percent but its there. This track is more of a free verse. More of a brag rap in the sense of their lyrical superiority and their ability to have a smooth flow. In my opinion, I really feel like they should have used this song for the end of their album as it really slows the pace down compared to their other songs. T-Dre and Delux seem to be also showing love to their home boys, Triple C and other people which is what most artists do for an outro.
8.5/10

08. Puttin' In Work
This is one of my go to songs when people ask me to "play some jams". The song samples Newcleus "Jam On It". A very popular song to sample. The way that the DJ scratches is beautiful. One thing I love in rap when it comes to showing of the DJ's skills is scratching. This is an example of minimalist scratching on the hook which makes it sound so dope. Only towards the end is when the DJ flexes his skills and even then I feel like it was only a sample. Lyrics, flow, energy and delivery are on point. The trifecta of talent is apparent here. Seems like they all had their creative energies in sync.
10/10

09. Just Another Night
I remember the first time I heard "Nights Of Pleasure" by Loose Ends. I always thought this song was so funky. Another rapper who used this beat is Suga Free's "Doe Doe And Da Skunk" which was (I believe) produced by DJ Quik. It is quite unfortunate that this song doesn't captivate me. For some reason, it just doesn't hold my interest. T-Dre seems to flow better to this song, as Delux sounds like he is forcing himself to give a good performance. Which he does, but you can feel as if he wasn't feeling this beat. The female blends into the beat well (sounds like the same female from their previous track "The Night Is Right") unfortunately towards the end of the song, her vocals are just too prolonged for my liking. Plus the lyrics she is singing don't sound well when they are sung. It would have been better rapped to.
6/10

10. My Vision
This song sounds super lazy when it comes to the production. Tt sounds clean and all but it is just so boring. The beat makes me snore. T-Dre and Delux are always good in performance but even they themselves can't save this beat. I always skip this song. Just utter trash. This absolutely has to be a filler track.
3/10

11. Between The Streets
Lets just say I am glad that the last song wasn't the end of this album. This great track is also found on the "Chicano Rap Volume 3" compilation from Familia Records (released in 1999). I really wonder how that happened. My guess is that this song is older or was recorded and finished earlier than most of their other tracks from this Album which was released in 2000. This song samples The Isley Brothers "Between The Sheets". I like how their track title is a play on words on the sample they used. I am sure I am stating the obvious, but the Notorious B.I.G also sampled this tune. This track slaps. I would say this is a chill song to smoke weed, and drink to.
9.5/10

12. Are You Ready
This song is pure bliss to my ears. So funky, smooth, and with high energy. Delux and T-Dre give their album's final track an explosive goodbye. This song has one of my favorite lines in Chicano Rap ever "never seen, never cling, too motherfucking brown for the mainstream" - Delux. This is an example of how C.L.S knew that they were disenfranchised due to their race in the rap game. I think even though their talent, lyricism, and their perfect delivery, wasn't enough to save them from the prejudice Chicanos face in the rap game. It is as if Chicanos have to try twice as hard compared to the African American rapper, to justify our place in rap. The song shows off the amazing chemistry as MCs both Delux and T-Dre have. The song samples "I'm Ready" by Kano.
10/10

This album I would consider a Chicano Rap must have. Due to some songs, I can't call it a masterpiece but I can say that this is pretty damn near it. Delux and T-Dre seem to be hardly mentioned in the Chicano Rap game and it really shocks me. Their lyrical dominance, the highly infectious energy, and the perfect delivery really show how talented these two are. I would say that C.L.S is a legendary Chicano Rap group that you shouldn't ignore.

This album is a 8.2/10.

01. Get Higher
02. Below Zero
03. The Night Is Right
04. Southern Cali
05. Backstreets
06. What's Up girl
07. Too Smooth
08. Puttin' In Work
09. Just Another Night
10. My Vision
11. Between The Streets
12. Are You Ready

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Tags: Cali Life Style, Underworld 805 Records

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