December 27, 2015

The Firm "The Album" (Rap Pages, December 1997)

"When Dr. Dre left N.W.A. to start Death Row Records with now-convicted felon Marion "Suge" Knight, he brought with him a sparkling track record peppered with numerous gold and platinum records. Unfortunately for Dre, since he escaped Death Row's death row to establish Aftermath Records, he has been unable to duplicate earlier achievements. His label debut  bombed and the Firm, a conglomerate of rappers masquerading as money launderers and cocaine traffickers, fails miserably. The Firm, consisting of Nas, Foxy Brown, AZ and newcomer Nature, first appeared on Nas's It Was Written on "Affirmative Action cut. "Affirmative Action" spun far-fetched tales of cocaine trafficking via Columbia and deals that suddenly turn sour. The insanity continues on the Firm. Instead of only one song depicting such foolishness, the entire album consists of uninspired, rehashed concepts pilfered from movies, such as Goodfellas, The Godfather, Casino and, of course, Scarface. Trackmasters shares production duties with Dre and seem satisfied with making records that probably pose as clever and original pieces of work to most of today's teens. For instance, "Hardcore" is a ripoff of Cheryl Lynn's "Encore," "Firm Biz" bites Teena Marie's "Square Biz" and "Fuck Somebody Else" boldly jacks the Jones Girk's "You Gonna Make Me Love Somebody Else."

"With the Firm's roster of MCs, one would expect this album to be laced with hit. Nothing could be further from the truth. The lyrical content of this debacle is bland. Nas continues his love affair of Latin American-mafioso-Cali cartel fantasies. Usual escapades of bartering p#ssy for loot, as well as breaking down the mathematics and intricacies of the drug trade are detailed by Foxy - again! AZ continues his career as the connected-but-not-yet "made" underling, and Nature never appears comfortable behind the mic. He ends up as the odd man out in the Firm's musical soiree. The Firms is a partnership that desperately needs to be dissolved." - Rap Pages, December 1997. Honestly? While my aim is to only post about content I enjoy - and I do think this album had a few redeeming moments - I have to agree, this album really did disappoint me a bit back in '97. So, I post this only to say, even though it features some of my favorite artists, they had a fair share of misses, too! Or, maybe I need to remove expectations from it, because with that collective, it shoulda been amazing!