October 21, 2021

The Firm "The Album" (October 21, 1997)

Nas and his cohorts have all the right ingredients for the perfect music Molotov; gold and platinum artists and producers, street credibility, a femme fatale, and a young protege. Yet The Firm routinely jumps back and forth over the skinny fence that separates failure from success. The foursome do, however, provide vigorous deliveries, renaissance rhymes, reflections on social conditions, and nicely timed mike tosses. Dr. Dre is on fire for some tracks; on some cheesy yesteryear shit for others. And although Nas is the apparent headliner, the verve and poetic acumen of his secondary architects prove the album's high points. Nas sounds crisp and clear but often comes off as unfocused, too infatuated with the high life and overly concerned with with polishing his laurels. But his clique's nimble-tongued members come through. They've got points to prove and doubts to squash. AZ, preparing for his forthcoming album, Pieces of a Man, steps up with tight, intertwined street stanzas that gain depth with every listen. Delivering on the initial promise he showcases on Nas's 1994 "Life's A Bitch," the Visualiza threads metaphysical thoughts, occult teachings, a taste for the glamorous life, and hip-hop's ever present one-upmanship into awesome aural lattices.... And Foxy is full of the kind of post-pubescent confidence that comes with having just recognized the power of the p#ssy. She's never been a better rhymestress than she is on The Firm.... Equally interested in cunnilingus as in being a cunning linguist, Foxy turns the tables around like a female Too Short, leaving pearl juice dripping from the speakers. You forget that she's an 18-year old kid playing grown-up. The up-and-coming Canibus assumes his regular role as show-stealer. But a plethora of guest appearances--including Noreaga and Half-a-Mil, Pretty Boy and Wizard--all get significant mike time,  blurring the focus of The Firm.... Ultimately, The Firm is heavy on motif, okay on concepts, and DOA on plot, while its overbearing skits and filler material pull the project into the mire of gimmickry. The Firm, though, even with star turns from AZ, Nas, and Foxy, misses its mark. This tight-knit work fam looks good together, sounds good together, but... is a little bit shaky. You'll be hitting fast-forward before your morning cup of joe wears off. - Vibe Magazine.

There are still songs on this I love, but the Vibe review wasn't wrong either ...