Lawless - Here's To You
Chicano Rap is filled with interesting coincidences, some are evident and some require a closer look. For instance Knightowl and Mr. Shadow are both from the same barrio, Leafar Seyer from Prayers is from the same clique that Mr. Lil One belongs to, and inevitably Chicano Rap would bring us music from rival barrios such as Brown Pride banging for Eastside Wilmas and Lawless representing Westside Wilmas.
Where Lawless stands out from other artists and their debuts is the fact that we are blessed with production from veteran producers like Tony G, Julio G and Tony A "Da Wizard". In other words, the production is top notch and very clean, does not feel like an underground release like other Chicano albums.
It's a very privileged album having major guest appearances by Chicano heavyweights like A.L.T, Slow Pain, Frost and Nino Brown. As a matter of fact, where the album shines is on the features. For instance, "Who Got that Gangsta Sh*t" has the ominous siren sound (sampled from Quincy Jones "Ironside") with Mr. Gee from Lawless holding it down with veterans A.L.T and Nino Brown. It may be the beat or the features that hold this jam together.
The song "Can I" was not a great follow up to the first track. While Mr. Gee isn't a bad rapper, the song did get boring real quick. "Who's Next" I found to be more entertaining as the instrumental itself is dope, Tony A and Raul G's (the other half of Lawless) production gives a more hip hop vibe with the sound of turn tables with a hypnotic loop on the beat is captivating. You can interpret it as an invitation to an emcee battle, pero al contrario es un reto to the neighboring barrios "cause they still can't fuck with the West, the kiss of death".
"Something To Ride To" truly is something to ride to. "Da Wizard" Tony A really laced some magic on this instrumental. Though not much is said, an excerpt from some interview from what I presume is from the 70s or early 80s regarding democratic militancy is heard. You may recognize this beat from a Mr. Vic song from a few years later. It is my belief that corridos and rap don't mix, and the 5th song ("Corrido") is a prime example.
I could have written an entire page to how incredible "Everyday Player" turned out. The composition of the instrumental was amazingly done. The song is the epitome of G-Funk: the chorus was on point (the female vocals really highlight the jam), the smooth synthesizer and the laid back funky rhymes by Slow Pain. The delivery and placement of verses were actually done out of the norm, usually there is one rapper doing a single verse with the chorus in between the next rapper's verse, however Mr. Gee begins the second verse and shortly after Slow Pain kicks in naturally before Gee does his last verse.
"American Dream" is distinctly different than the other songs on here. The guitar riffs over the 808 beats give it a rap-rock feel. Outside of his appearances with Spanish Fly, Westside Grim has a guest spot on this song.
The last 3 songs of the album are really well done and probably have the better sequence over the rest of the album. "On Top Of The Game" features Nino Brown and I couldn't think of a better guest appearance on this tune. Nino B has strong raspy tone over a melodic instrumental crafted by Raul G and with Diane Gordon's vocals (think "Round And Round" by Tha Twins).
It took me a while to realize that Lawless samples Smokey Robinson along with Whodini for "The Enemy". The song is dope, talks a whole lot of masa regarding their rival barrios. While I can understand the decades long hate for across-town rivals, the song could have the verse tweaked a little. When I was younger I enjoyed the thrill of cursing and hearing as many curse words thrown into a sentence as possible, but in my late 20s I just don't feel it anymore, and the chorus really makes me wanna skip the song half the time ("fuck the muthafucking enemy, still can't fuck with the West"). I'm even tempted to loop a part of the instrumental to replace the chorus.
Bringing the album to a close, it's none other than the titular track for the album. It's funky with a roster of G-Spot heavy hitters: Frost and Slow Pain. Frost even alludes to this being "Eastside Rendezvous Part 2". The song itself has always been a favorite of mine, with sweet production from Raul G. All together, you can feel the chemistry between all the artists and producers. The by product was clean, sharp and crisp. If you don't already own this, it's worth adding it to your collection.
01. Who Got That Gangsts Sh*t
02. Can I
03. Who's Next
04. Something To Ride To
06. Everyday Player
07. American Dream
08. On Top Of The Game
09. The Enemy
10. Here's To You