November 02, 2015

Jamal "Last Chance, No Breaks" (The Source, 12/95)

"By now you know the rules. Unless an MC kicks verses 'bout bitches, glocks, da ghetto and little white rocks, he ain't hard. But coming off hard, on the mic or on the corner, isn't about what you say but how you say it. That's the lesson the best MCs learn early. And on his debut solo record, Last Chance, No Breaks, 16-year old Jamal Phillips shows that for all his prodigal talent, it's a lesson he hasn't quite gotten down yet. Jamal, formerly known as Mally G, broke back in 1993 when he and Mr. Malik emerged as the rap duo Illegal. Their album, The Untold Truth, earned props from the press and the street. But the two parted amicably to pursue solo work. Now, like Redman and Keith Murray, Jamal counts himself a member of Erick Sermon's Def Squad. Last Chance... owes much to that background. Murray and Redman guest on two tracks, while Red and Sermon produce another two." Check out the official music video for Jamal's classic, "Fades 'Em All," article cont'd below...

"With beats rooted in the old skool rugged-and-raw sound godfathered by Sermon, and an on-point lyrical attack reminiscent of groups like Black Moon and Wu-Tang, Jamal keeps heads bobbin'. But his chest thumpin' raps - focused mostly on his own skillz and the tough streets of Southwest Philly - can come off hollow, slipping in and out of any real flow. It's the production of Sermon, Redman and executive producer Dallas Austin (along with Erotic D and Easy Mo Bee) that elevates the album. Nearly all the tracks feature juicy grooves and precision selection of understated samples - like the tip-toe piano of Stevie Wonder's "Ribbon In The Sky" heard on "Keep It Real" or the thick-funk backbeat of the lead single, "Fades Em All." The results are unassuming, rich and textured beats that fit Jamal like a phat down jacket while making up for most of his lyrical missteps. But no disrespect, Jamal is only 16 and does show much promise. He'll learn his lessons, and it's hip-hop that will be better for it." - The Source, December 1995. Full review below. Photograph above by Danny Hastings.