August 06, 2015

Nine "Cloud 9" (Rap Pages, October 1996)

"The skinny on Cloud 9 is that Nine's comical voice and throughly down-to-earth writing are almost an engaging enough combo to overcome most of the questionable choices that infiltrate his music. Almost, if nothing here matches the flowing grace of his own hit single from two years ago, "Whatcha Want?," at least a handful of songs provide their own winning moments. The LP's first single, "Lyin' King," takes dead aim at studio hustlers and strikes a bull's-eye from its hilarious opening sentiment. "I heard your album and I don't believe a word of it." The survival-driven "Make Or Take," featuring Nine's equally ruff-voiced labelmate Smoothe Da Hustler, may make your throat sore from just hearing it, but remains listenable thanks to thoughts like "Six million ways to die, but only one to live / I need enough money to spend, enough money to give." Meanwhile, Cloud 9's introspective closer, "4 Chicken Wings and Rice," recounts meager days gone past with a dope down-tempo groove and an affecting eye for detail: "Thirty cents away from a dollar / Goin' to the store for a 40 of water." Of course, check the visuals to the underground gem, "Lyin' King," cont'd below...

"Production-wise, much of the LP retains the string-concerto characteristics of producer Rob Lewis's work on "Whatchu Want," only the result is not quite so memorable. Complicating matters is an unappetizing menu of guests. In addition to the downright annoying King Just, 3rd Eye and female MC Uneek display similarly overbearing tendencies on "Richman Poorman" and "The Product," respectively. Dancehall don Bounty Killer also makes an unnecessary appearance on "Warriors," in light of Nine's own charming off-key patois, crooning on the last LP's "Redrum." While in the end the rap veteran's passion for his profession is convincing enough, these pitfalls make for an occasionally frustrating package. On the suitably dark "Every Man 4 Himself" Nine advises, "Don't chase dreams, chase paper." Cloud 9's inconsistencies suggest the chase is not yet over." - Rap Pages: October, '96.