By Daniel B. Honigman
Rating 2 (out of 5)
Beatnuts founding members Psycho Les and Al Tariq, along with Missinâ€™ Linx member Problemz must enjoy each otherâ€™s company. Itâ€™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 theyâ€™re embarking on something of a reunion tour.
Thing is â€“ is anyone listening?
“The City Never Sleeps” (Nature Sounds), is Big Cityâ€™s first album together. If you already like the â€˜Nuts, you may be happy with this latest offering. Then again, it may just make you sad. If youâ€™re not a fan, maybe you should check out Intoxicated Demons or “Street Level” first. Donâ€™t get me wrong; the Beatnutsâ€™ old swagger is still there. Lesâ€™ production skills are there, in theory. But itâ€™s clear thereâ€™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, Problemzâ€™ lyrics catch fire in what is one of the nicest verses Iâ€™ve heard in a minute; â€œAct 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.â€ One of the albumâ€™s high points, this track is in stark contrast to the next song, Milf, which is aboutâ€¦well, you know. â€œYou know I canâ€™t wife ya/but I really like ya/and I want to pipe yaâ€. (â€˜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 groupâ€™s original sound. Sorry, folks, but to leave him off “The City Never Sleeps” should make you wonder what Big City wants to accomplish â€“ 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 â€“ or half of their download time. Part of me likes this album, donâ€™t get me wrong. Maybe I like the fact that the original â€˜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, donâ€™t be surprised if you find yourself reaching for the â€œEjectâ€ button.
(This review originally appeared on HipHopDX.com)