VA - West Coast Gambino$ Chicano Rap

Them G-Spot recordings hardly disappoint. One thing that can always be expected is quality material from the collaboration of the usual roster of rappers affiliated with the G-Spot Gees and the legendary West Coast KDAY Mixmasters. Undoubtedly ranks among those albums you immediately click with. I remember one summer from my middle school days, kicking back with my cousins in Santa Ana flipping through my primo's album binder when I spotted this disc on one of the pages. The visual aesthetic of the disc instantly caught my attention. So naturally, I popped the disc into his stereo and I let that shit bang.

I'm 12 years old and I had not clue who Tony G was at the time when I heard the intro, I recognized the instrumental playing in the background ("Nothing But A G Thang") and just heard the pseudo interview before (what became) my favorite track started off with the sound of a radio channel changing. Suddenly the synthesizer does its magical thing and captivated you before the classic stylized West Coast claps start banging the bass ("It Ain't Easy"). At this point I wasn't aware of who any of these vatos were, let alone knew some were Chicano. One thang's for sure, A.L.T's verse is beast, "say that, 2 emcees got slay'ed at/ 5-2-4-0 Cogswell, no trail/ leads to the killa my rhyme millimeta uses lyrics for shells/ I'm the death wish fullfilla see if my trigga don't get squeezed fast, this Latino Gambino is putting 6 in yo' ass". Bang! Fun Fact: If you've listened to the G'Fellas album, you'll notice the beat was also used on "Homie's". Accordingly, the third track was the first track recorded for W/C Gambinos and eventually led to the full project. I dig the change of tone to a more Mafioso tone with the piano keys playing. Who can deny O.Genius, aka Nino Brown, got bars? Not my favorite track but Nino B's deep voice breaths life into the track.

"Price of Power" picks up a desperado tone, Mr. Gee and Frost toss their rhymes on a mellow, guitar strung instrumental. I've noticed Frost tends to change his voice often (others like Knightowl, Royal T and Slow Pain have a habit of doing the same), the song is forgettable, though. Moving on to that party vibe Slow Pain is known for, I can appreciate the "Ring My Bell" sample and interpolation laced with Slow's pimp style flow on "Lil' Don Juan" (if you didn't know that's, that's slang for womanizer stemming from a story almost 400 years old). Reverting back to the comment I made about Frost's voice pitch changing, "How We Ride" is a perfect example. The song possesses a vocoder on the chorus and the tempo provides us with a up-beat fast paced flow from every one participating. It's well produced but not something I am into (if anybody liked that Midwest Do Or Die/Twista flow, this is right up your alley).

Borrowing from Ice T's own "6 In Tha Mornin'" kicks off in a similar manner over one of the greatest instrumentals (my homie swears this is a sample of "Anniversary" by Tony Toni Tone). The song is truly captivating and one of two songs that really made an impression on me when I first heard it (the other being track #2). Instant classic. The homies from E Side Ghetto let lose on "Chances". This time around, I actually listened to the entire track back-to-back and was surprised at how good the song is, considering I never gave it a chance the first time I heard it (and was severely disappointed with their track on the Latin All Stars comp.). Makes me wanna listen to their full album. The ninth song has Mellow Man Ace holding it down on his own. I had hoped that "Cuban Connection" would feature some of that bilingual rhyming that made him famous ("Mentirosa") but I expected too much. Oddly enough his flow was eerily similar to King Tee. Returning to the mafioso tone aforementioned, "Heat & Smoke" has ALT and Nino B handling business, but I can't say this is a song I will ever bump in my ride (they've done much better). The 11th rola ("County Jail") has had me hitting replay for several weeks! Conceptualizing a relationship with with an inmate, JV raps alongside Nino B with such a natural conversation in the form of rhyme. The instrumental takes it to another level. This song's concept alone makes it a stand out track.

"Premeditated Murder" by the Reyes brothers (Sen Dogg and Mellow) could have been approached differently. Let me explain. I have always liked Sen Dog best 'cause his Calo was on point, his Spanglish rhymes always had me reciting his raps. I would have liked them rapping over classic West Coast styled beats, so I was a lil' let down, but hey— to each their own. Not certain if it was an ode to Biggie's line, but "Cubans With The Jesus Piece" has Sen Dogg, B-Real and Mellow Man Ace doing their thing, makes me think this was better fit for a G-Fellas release. At this point I'm just not feeling the mafioso tone. Skip. Glancing at the credits, I realized a quarter of the songs consists of Nino B and Slow Pain exchanging bars. The chemistry is undeniable and the duo don't seize to entertain, especially over beat like "This Is How We Bang". Whilst I let the album play in full, the second to last song asks a question that I don't think the song itself answered with 100 percent certainty: "Can Mexicans Rap?" We know the answer is "yes" albeit this song was not exemplary of the skill wielded by these rappers. In fact it almost does them a disservice. "Taxin'" is the last song on the album, bringing the mafioso themes to an end. O.Genius (Nino Brown) tears it up alongside Slow. You can imagine the theme from the title. I'll be honest, it's not my favorite song but it isn't bad either, it's an okay track that I wouldn't regularly play.

Concluding my thoughts on the album, I thought it ran a little too long. I always advocate quality over quantity, I don't care if you drop a 4 song EP or a 13 track album, I just want quality and the lengthier the album gets the more likely the quality will diminish. That being said, Thump Records deserves more credit in their role in Chicano Rap. The KDAY Mixmasters, too. The mainstream slept on the G-Spot roster of artists. Do yourself a favor and pick this up. Makes for a good listen and an alternative to the usual funk loops and gangster theme, more "organized rhyme stories" (saw what I did there?).

01. Julio G - Intro
02. Gambino All Stars - It Ain't Easy
03. Mr. Gee - Chicano Gambinos (feat. Slow Pain, Nino Brown)
04. Frost - The Price Of Power (feat. Mr. Gee)
05. Slow Pain - Lil' Don Juan
06. Frost - How We Ride (feat. Mr. Gee, Kborne)
07. ALT - 6 In Tha Mornin'
08. E Side Ghetto - Chances
09. Mellow Man Ace - Cuban Connection
10. ALT - Heat & Smoke (feat. Nino B)
11. Jay Vee - County Jail (feat. Nino B)
12. Sen Dog - Premediated Murder (feat. Mellow Man Ace)
13. B-Real - Cubans With The Jesus Piece (feat. Mellow Man Ace, Sen Dog)
14. Slow Pain - This Is How We Bang (feat. Nino B)
15. Mr. Gee - Can Mexicans Rap? (feat. The G'Fellas)
16. Slow Pain - Taxin' (feat. Nino Brown)

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