Philadelphia native, Beanie Sigel, has made quite a name for himself in the hip hop industry.
Along with releasing two successful solo albums and becoming a franchise player for Jay Z’s Roc-A-Fella Records, Sigel has also made the jump onto the big screen. Released through the newly formed Roc-A-Fella Films, “State Property” is an urban hustler movie set in the streets of Philly, starring Sigel, along with the rest of the Roc-A-Fella Records family.
To go along with the release of this film, Sigel has put together the “State Property” album. Rather than being a soundtrack, this album is a showcase for Sigel and his crew. Like Eminem’s D12 and Nelly’s St. Lunatics, “State Property” is Sigel’s way of introducing his new talent, five young and hungry MCs looking for their time to shine, to the world.
“State Property” is made up of Sigel, Freeway, Oschino, Sparks, Young Chris and Neef. After one listen to this album, it remains clear that Sigel is this crew’s strongest link, as he controls nine out of the album’s 13 tracks. This doesn’t mean that the rest of the State Property group is without skill. Each MC delivers an occasional impressive verse, but as the album continues, their similar flows and rhyme styles make it difficult to distinguish one MC from the next. The only newcomer who sets himself apart from the rest is Freeway, due to his unique but irritating delivery, which makes him sound as if he is about to cry every time he grabs the mic.
While the lyrical content on this album may not consistently impress, the production is a different story. Producers such as Just Blaze, Rick Rock and Kanye West continue to supply Roc-A-Fella artists with solid beats, which are a mix of old school soul and new hardcore.
The combination of solid lyrics and solid production is only felt on six of the album’s 13 tracks. The album’s opener, “Roc the Mic,” features Sigel and Freeway skillfully attacking the bouncy, old school beat, resulting in the true head-nodding music. Despite using a beat with a heavy Wu Tang Clan influence, “Do You Want Me” is a grimy and hypnotic song dealing with members of the opposite sex. Sigel uses this album to deliver some of his best work to date, on songs such as “No Glory” and “Got Nowhere.” “No Glory” features Sigel spitting braggadocio over a funky ’70s-style beat, while “Got Nowhere” is an introspective look at Philly street life over a dramatic backdrop. Another impressive track is “It’s Not Right,” which is a look back on the wrongs committed by Freeway, Sparks, Chris and Sigel.
The rest of this album fails to live up to the promise of its highlights. While the overall production saves the album, the beats tend to sound very similar, especially when matched with mirror-like flows of each member. “Sun Don’t Shine,” with its generic beat and R&B chorus, comes off as a song even watered down artists like Ja Rule would turn down. After a few listens, “Why Must I” begins to sound a lot like “Think It’s a Game,” from Sigel’s latest album, “The Reason,” which was a much better song.
Besides Sigel, the only other member with a solo song on this album is Freeway, and he fails to impress. On “International Hustler,” Young Free wastes a banging rock-tinged beat with his annoying delivery, resulting in a song that should be listened to with two aspirin in hand. Other songs like “Trouble Man” and “Sing My Song” are fast forward material, due to their weak lyrics and tired subject matter.
Will “State Property” change the face of hip-hop? Definitely not. Is listening to this album a complete waste of time? No. The impressive work done by the producers make it worth a listen for the beats alone. Fans of Sigel and the Roc-A-Fella Records music style will have this album on repeat for hours at a time, but hip-hop heads looking for music with creativity and originality will quickly become bored. My advice to anyone thinking about buying this CD is to head down to Jamaica Avenue and pick up the $5 bootleg version.