By Daniel B. Honigman
Rating 2 (out of 5)
Beatnuts founding members Psycho Les and Al Tariq, along with Missin’ Linx member Problemz must enjoy each other’s company. It’s been almost 15 years since “Intoxicated Demons” was released and almost a decade since the three have worked under the same banner. Still, they comprise Big City and they’re embarking on something of a reunion tour.
Thing is – is anyone listening?
“The City Never Sleeps” (Nature Sounds), is Big City’s first album together. If you already like the ‘Nuts, you may be happy with this latest offering. Then again, it may just make you sad. If you’re not a fan, maybe you should check out Intoxicated Demons or “Street Level” first. Don’t get me wrong; the Beatnuts’ old swagger is still there. Les’ production skills are there, in theory. But it’s clear there’s some old dust they need to shake off, cause it is basically a shell of their former sound.
The album has a couple of redeeming joints, though. Stickem Up is an energetic track featuring an equally strong hook from the always reliable Greg Nice. In D.J. Famalam, Problemz’ lyrics catch fire in what is one of the nicest verses I’ve heard in a minute; “Act like you know the name/Caught a flat on the road to fame/Now back hitting switches/Made a detour to get some digits/On the road to the riches.” One of the album’s high points, this track is in stark contrast to the next song, Milf, which is about…well, you know. “You know I can’t wife ya/but I really like ya/and I want to pipe ya”. (‘Nuff said.)
Big horns and cowbells give Chedda a bouncy feel, making it a fairly decent club track. But there are a few missteps on this album. On Boy and Running Around, Les uses two flute loops that, instead of giving the songs momentum, make them sound stagnant. Lick Balls features a Houston-influenced, screwed-up beat. (Why they bothered with this, I have no idea.)
Junkyard JuJu was an integral part of the group’s original sound. Sorry, folks, but to leave him off “The City Never Sleeps” should make you wonder what Big City wants to accomplish – other than releasing mediocre hip-hop albums.
Personally, I would have released “The City Never Sleeps EP”, cutting the tracklist in half, saving everyone half of their money – or half of their download time. Part of me likes this album, don’t get me wrong. Maybe I like the fact that the original ‘Nuts are still at it, nice to have Les and Fashion rocking together again.
You may like the album after giving it a few listens. But after a good dozen or so spins, don’t be surprised if you find yourself reaching for the “Eject” button.
(This review originally appeared on HipHopDX.com)