The Deal: Compton, Calif. emcee takes his place among the best of the new West.
The Good: Pleasant surprises are great. "Growing Apart" was so smooth I almost missed the Jehovah's Witness references to how many people go to heaven. "Ignorance is Bliss" featured Lamar's fast flow and felt like a soulful remix of a track that was original grimey, instead it was hardcore lyrics over strings and timpanis.
"P&P 1.5" was one of my favorite tracks. What sets it apart from the generic liquor anthem most rappers kick out (and who doesn't enjoy p*ssy and Patron?), this one had dope production and even a very Texas twist in the middle. "Alien Girl (Today With Her)" had a vibe like something The Neptunes would've dropped last decade, very nice.
"Opposites Attract" was cool and completely encompassed the 'relationship rap' aesthetic even though I wish the dope spoken word at the end was re-recorded in studio to sound better. "Barbed Wire" was just dope while "Average Joe," a cut with hints of the G-Funk era, won the line of the album, "I don't make Black music, I don't make White music, I make everyday life music." "H.O.C." had every component to be a weed anthem, until you got to the chorus that said, "I don't even smoke though."
"She Needs Me (Remix)" featuring Calif. co-stars Murs & Dom Kennedy was probably the track I'd play first for the unfamiliar. A low-key posse record with A Tribe Called Quest drums, can't knock that at all. "I Do This (Remix)" saw classical meet crunk in an interesting way.
The Bad: A couple tracks felt out of place. "Michael Jordan" had a Weezy flow and Jeezy beat but the weak chorus was far from a MJ fadeaway. Don't know who was imitating Bilal on the "ROTC (Interlude)" but they killed an otherwise stellar track with a cover fail of Common's "The Light." Don't know whose idea it was to repeatedly call someone "boo boo" on "Cut You Off (To Grow Closer)" but it sounded like a 6-year old. Hopefully, it was an inside joke.
The Verdict: The new West does it again. This was originally supposed to be an album and was given out free as an EP. Kicking out $9.99. [or $5.99 like it is now on iTunes] for this wouldn't have been a waste. A solid jump into the mainstream, indie conversation.
Top Dawg Entertainment; Release date: Sept. 14, 2010