VA - Brown Royal Kingpins... In These Times
Prior to buying this, I had only heard about 4 songs from the 16 listed. Also, I wasn't aware that this was ODM's project (at least that's the impression I got after reading the insert). This dropped almost 20 years ago and I must say, the album exceeded my expectations. The cover is somewhat interesting, the Mexica (Aztec) Sun Stone is displayed over a blue backdrop with thunder. Across the top is a banner in Old English reading "Brown Royal Kingpins" (a play on Crown Royal, the Canadian whiskey). Underneath it reads "In These Times" in the same font. On the inside there's a message from ODM, giving every one who guided him a "thank you". On the backside of the album, again we see the Sun Stone displayed and alongside it (or over it) is a another Aztec statue of Mictlatecuhtli, the deity of the dead, ruler of the underworld.
I first popped this CD in my ride and let the album play as I cruised El Camino Real into Vista Way. This was the first song I heard from the album back in the early 2000s, the production is clean, the claps are strong and the rest is great. I just wished Slow would have slowed down his rapping pace to a more relaxed tone, but overall he and ODM have good chemistry. Track two with Shadow featuring Pops and ODM is an okay track, the chorus is a little weak, contrasting the fact that Shadow killed his verse and as for Pops, first time I heard him, had a good performance. The instrumental was a little monotonous, nothing stood out about it. There's a long held believe that Chicano Rap has never blown up because it's always been a cheap imitation of Black culture and if you want to cling to that notion, then you can rely on "Super Baller" to do that for you. This was just a lazy attempt to remake "Black Superman" by Above The Law, this ranks low on my list of lame remakes along with "Vatos In The Varrio". Switching it up to a more entertaining song, "In These Times", a banging anthem by Marro from Wicked Minds. The "Atomic Dog" sample turned into a timeless instrumental (later used by Westside Cartel). I don't know why I immediately thought of Tha Dogg Pound's "Cyco Lic No" when I heard the chorus, the instrumental reminded me of "Respect" by Tha Pound. I gotta give it up to ODM for the production.
I have never heard of Z Lokey Loc, and quite frankly it's a goofy name. Conejo is featured on this track, but it's neither one who impressed me, in fact, it was the instrumental that got me stuck on this song. The beat is unlike anything I've heard before, "50 Yd Dash" is a standout track. I was really feeling the song after, almost felt like it was wasted on Capone-E, though. This was in the beginning when he rapped with that annoying nasally style early in his career, but the damn beat is amazing, ODM should have made that a LSOB track or at least kept it for himself. I loved the "Rumors" sample on "What's My Name", it just went naturally with the entire composition of the song. Track 8 is credited to Pops and a guy named Lil Dank (who coincidentally sounds a whole lot like DTTX). It's not a bad track, it gets some play. Wicked Minds and Pops get down to an odd song, and I say it's odd because I really like the chorus but the rest of the song falls short. If I could loop the chorus I would. After skipping to the tenth track, I gotta admit that Pops is a decent rapper or maybe it was the melody given to him to lay down his vocals. I find myself digging this jam quite a bit, makes for a good party track.
I spent a lot of time in Corona cruising Hamner Ave, Sixth Street and Grand when I lived there. Naturally, I appreciated hearing some young talent represent the Crown Town on "Everbody On It", though I never heard of Bandit WOC, but I'll give him his props for flipping it on the mic over a great tune. Another party jam to get your groove on. At this point the album starts to drag out. There are some lackluster cuts thrown in here and ODM isn't spared from my judgement. Conejo's solo had its moments, nothing stood out or left an impression. There's a line on here that I've heard on another C-O-N rola, I just can't think of the name. Another rapper I never heard of was Hectic One on his solo song, but I give him props, he could flow but the beat was not doing him justice. Back to Conejo, the horns on "Til Death Do Us Part" are too distracting, but he does have a vicious flow. Maybe an ominous beat with a slower temple would have matched his flow. The last jam really made the album fizzle out, it was a weak and felt like it was made to fulfill a 16 track contract.
By now y'all know that I prefer shorter albums. This could have really been better had it only had 10 or 12 songs. Despite the lengthy track list, I did enjoy a handful of songs (1, 4-7, 10, & 11). Considering all the connections and influences around him, ODM did a hell of a job producing the music for all the rappers in his project. My new found appreciation for his efforts leads me to think he could have continued making an impact in the game, or at least mentoring the younger generation.
01. Slowpain - Kingpin Cholos (feat. Lil Sicko)
02. Mr. Shadow - Bad Influences (feat. Pops, O.D.M)
03. Lil Blacky - Super Baller
04. Marro - In These Times
05. Phadalaz - Hard Head Click
06. Z Lokey Loc - 50 Yd Dash (feat. Conejo)
07. Capon-E - What's My Name
08. Lil Dank - Young Geto Child (feat. Pops)
09. Wicked Minds - World Is A Ghetto (feat. Pops)
10. Pops - How Ya Like It?
11. Bandit W.O.C - Everybody In It
12. Ambrosia - My Main Thing (feat. O.D.M)
13. Conejo - You Ain't The Homie
14. Hectic One - World Domination
15. Conejo - Til Death Do Us Part
16. Robby C "Da Infamous" - I Bet You Never Thought