Album: Big Bang Boogie
Label: Ill Boogie
Rating: 9 / 10
Reviewer: DJ MF
Coming out of the streets of New York city, through Chicago, as a former member of the Mental Giants crew, and hot off the success of the lead single on the LP, ‘Hot Ya Hot’, Akbar has released his debut full length on Ill Boogie Records, the imprint of production/DJ guru M-Boogie.
Akbar means “the greatest” in Arabic, so right off, this kid had better have skills, because it’s obvious he has cockiness in spades. In terms of vocal style, Ak sounds pretty generic, and a lot like any of the hundreds of MC’s that have tried to ply their craft coming out of NY. This con is countered however by the fact that Ak can DEFINITELY flow for days. He’s got a very smooth delivery, nice punchlines, and he’s able to paint a vivid mental picture when necessary.
So does it work? There’s a lot of MC’s with skills in the game today (see Canibus) that have failed because of beats, so success isn’t a given for Ak, even though he has the skills. Let’s check it out.
1) Hip Hop Is…
As the title would suggest, a basic track giving a breakdown on what Akbar thinks hip hop is. A DOPE beat here provided by Jun, which features a rolling piano loop, and could have been done by Premier, it’s executed so slickly. Some nice cuts provided by Fredones, and the lyrics are on point too, with Ak using a laidback, Nas-like flow to give his thoughts on hip hop. A great opener.
“Hip hop is
A style that’s wild
A ghetto child looking for a reason to smile
Hip hop is
The application of street knowledge
For modern day situations not learned in college”
2) No Suckas Allowed
Some ill cuts intro the track here, as M-Boogie makes his first production appearance on the LP. He provides a moderately paced beat with a funky bass line, and some nice 70’s sounding organ synths, with scratches interspersed throughout the beat. Ak decides to take on wack MC’s on this track, spitting some serious venom in their direction. His voice may be a bit generic, but he is REALLY good with his flow… I mean SERIOUSLY good. Amazingly, as verbose as the track is, I think it would REALLY rock a party hard.
“When ya came in the party and you saw the crowd
Shoulda read the sign, “No suckas allowed”
This jam is for the real rappin fans
Put the stomp in your feet and the clap in your hands
The nod in your head, and the hump in your back
With the uncontrollable urge to jump in the track
You know I’m bout to come up with something phat
When I take control, can’t nothing hold me back”
3) Bigga Dey Come
After some silence, a couple of bells enter the picture, and the mood changes up quite a bit from the party vibe of the previous track. A darker bassline underlines the bells, and some basic drums accompany it. This is on some more basic NY ish here, and reminds me of something Mobb Deep would maybe rock over. A nice touch is that you can hear the record crackliness and pops. Call me a sucker for analog. Befitting the production, Ak goes a little deeper with the lyrics here in the first verse, concentrating on his life, and whether or not others would remember him if he was gone, and if they did, what they would think. The second verse focuses on a lot of the supposed conspiracies in the world today (ie. drugs provided by the government). A dope track that shows yet another side of Ak.
“How can I hide from the genocide?
Job provides ultimate route to get me out
And escape Babylon fate no doubt
There’s only one righteous path, you do the math
While you hold your breath waiting on the year 2000
The government’s busy taking your public housing
Wages kept minimum, it’s new millenium
Replace your ghetto with condominiums”
4) Take It There
A nice piano loop once again, highlighted by a dope horn sample at the end of it makes up the beat here. After a few seconds a nice bassline comes in and serves as perfect compliment to the samples. The lyrics deal with Akbar’s formative years came about, as he narrates his early life, and his multiple moves from NY to California to Chicago. A nice touch is the use of some old school loops interspersed for added effect during the song. Halfway through the song, some weirdish flute noises jump in too. A very busy beat, but it works. The lyrics as usual are top notch, and Ak has served notice 4 tracks in, at least to me, that he’s a HUGE force to be reckoned with in the world of hip hop today.
“Took us west, straight through the country
To California, is the place to see
So daddy put us inside, his Cadillac
We hit the west coast, I thought we’d never come back
Now, I’m walking on green grass 3 years went past
Palm trees, ocean breeze, where the summers last
See, that’s the life that I led
It taught me home is just the place where you lay your head”
5) 5th Element
Some nice drums kick things off, with a jazzy piano line, and some nice cuts in the background. Pretty sparse after that, as Ak goes to a more minimal beat here, provided by DJ Revolution, of “Wake Up Show” fame. Much like ‘No Suckas Allowed’, this is basically another braggadacio track, with Akbar letting all know how dope he is. Some nice one liners in there, and as you’d expect from a Revolution production some ill cuts, fades, and scratches.
6) Driftin Thru Space
Time for a slow joint? Sounds like it. Some spacey sounds, and some sitar-like sounds accentuate this darker track, as Akbar switches up his lyrics yet again, this time focusing on the creation of the universe, and Allah’s part in it. It’s been done before countless times, but Ak manages to make it sound fresh.
“The land was divided by oceans and great seas
With rivers that ran like the Nile and Euphrates
And fish swam, and birds flew through the sky
And animals roamed the plain and they too multiplied
As each and every living thing began to sing
Giving praise to the king For bringing life and love and peace and harmony was manifest
Cuz the sun was set in the west”
7) Akbar Speaks(Interlude)
As you’d guess, Akbar speaking on a number of things, including health, and mental stuff. Interesting, but DEFINITELY skippable to the max. The liners say this was recorded from a radio show.
8) Those Who Say
This Kid Named Miles from critically acclaimed crew Breakestra produces this track, and to tell the truth, I’m a bit underwhelmed. There are some nice dirty sounding hard hitting drums here, and a decent enough bassline, but apart from a couple of horn samples interspersed, it’s kind of boring, and well, average. The lyrics are above average here again though, and end up saving the track, as Ak once again goes the braggadacio route.
“I’m not a gangsta I’m something closer to a monster
Chi-Town, underground, Boogie Down, Bronxer
Remember when I stomped ya?
Live in concert?
With the rugged raw, I came, saw, and conquered”
9) Hot Ya Hot(M-Boogie Remix)
Bliss. If there’s one word to describe this track, that would be it. DJ Revolution provides some disgustingly good scratches, and M-Boogie laces this beat in his usual style(think DJ Premier). Ak once again comes correct on vocals, letting MC’s know that the only way they’ll succeed is if they drop the hot ish.
“A shot from a 4-5 couldn’t stop my vibe
Phase me and daze me, nobody plays me
They all shot at me, they gotta be crazy!
They only grazed me, I had to be swayzee
My momma always told me not to be lazy”
A crazy nice beat provided here by DJ Shame. A beautiful vocal sample that sounds almost mournful laces the background, with some basic drums serving as the backdrop. Very simple. The subject matter? A UFO sighting and some of Akbar’s thoughts on extraterrestrial life.
“I was smack dab in the middle of a wonderful dream
When I was suddenly awoken by a frightening scream
My first reaction was to grab my heat
Pull down the covers, threw back the sheets
Looked over to the window, sprang to my feet
Outside, I saw mad people on the street
In a state of shock
Somebody called the cops, to quiet the riot
But now they pulling out Glocks
Shutting down blocks, busting shots at the sky
But why even try to defy the most high?
It was a divine sign, encounter of the third kind”
11) Space Odyssey
A dreamlike sample runs this track, and sounds pulled from something like Mary Poppins. An inventive use of the sample, no doubt. In addition to the sample, some beautiful keys lace the beat as well. The overall effect is dreamy, and sounds kind of trippy as well. Ak follows the lead of the beat here, dropping some vague Raekwon type stream of thought ish. I THINK he’s doing the “aliens” thing again, but I’m not too sure. A dope track for the beat anyways.
12) Live Long
A weird, weird, weird beat supplied by Thes-One of People Under The Stairs here. It’s very hard to describe, but I’ll try. After a pretty normal beginning with some basic drums, this VERY weird loop enters play. I THINK it’s a single key piano key, distorted, and then altered in a way that makes it sound like it’s underwater. Regardless, it’s dope. Lyricswise, once again Ak lives up to the beat provided, dropping some dope multisyllable type rhymes, and some surprisingly deep lyrics on life.
“Look not to my external
Cuz what’s external will one day return to the inferno
But what’s internal is eternal
What’s in my journal does not concern you
Learn to respect the intellect or my fire will burn you”
13) Hold On
Wow, what a beat provided by Parker Lee. Best on the album bar none. This sounds like something straight from the Wu-Tang, with some deep bass, a 4/4 drum pattern, and the cherry on top – a vocal loop of a woman singing “hold on”. The end result is very eerie instrumental. Incredible. The lyrics are up to par as well, as Ak sends out a message to anyone who’s in need of spiritual or emotional uplifting.
“It’s all the same in the hall of fame
I just wanna be ready when He calls my name
This material world is a ball and chain
Live your life righteous or it’s all in vein”
As the title would suggest, Ak uses this track to remember all those that have passed on. A suitably sadder track comprised of a haunting acoustic guitar, and a slow bassline makes up the beat. Think sad thoughts, and you’d get the mood of this track. Ak is perfect lyrically here, reflecting on life and death. Incredible performance.
“To all my peoples who ain’t hear no more
When we can’t shed tears, we pour beer on the floor
To remember the dead, I hand my head in sorrow
And ask God for the strength to face tomorrow
Cuz I know, when I leave this physical frame that
Half of y’all probably won’t remember my name
Try to take me out, but you can never douse this flame
I foresaw my funeral, only the real heads came”
15) Hot Ya Hot
The original to the remix found earlier on the LP, and once again M-Boogie is on the boards. Ill cuts again, and the difference between the cuts is based almost purely on a different drum scheme. It sounds close though. I prefer the original though, which sounds like it’s flipped the sample used by Dilated Peoples on ‘Work the Angles’. This is vintage M-Boogie right here. Ak as usual rips it.
16) Those Who Say (DJ Revolution Remix)
Rev serves up another dope slab of a beat, with a horn backbone, and some rattling noises. The chorus features a cool little electro-tinged piano loop. The overall effect is pretty downbeat, something I’ve never really heard from Rev as a producer. Tons better than the original though. Lyrics remain the same as the original.
A quick note – the last two tracks are exclusives to the CD, so all y ‘all backwards cassette kids will miss out on them.
So what has M-Boogie unearthed? Looks like a diamond. This is one of the top 3 albums of the year thus far, EASILY. Like his press clippings say, Ak looked to bring the art of emceeing back with this release, and I’d say he succeeded in stunning fashion. Cross your fingers that this gets it’s shine, because it’d be a shame to see such talent get ignored.
One of the best debuts I’ve ever heard. An easy 9, and very close to a perfect score.