Album: Take Em To The Cleaners
Label: Sure Shot Recordings
Rating: 7 / 10
Reviewer: Matt Barone
While he may seem like only a rookie to some, Queens-bred MC Consequence has been in this rap game for years. Recently gaining notoriety for his appearance on Kanye West’s “College Dropout” highlight ‘Spaceship’ as well as his touring gigs with Mr. West, Consequence is reaping the benefits of his musical associate’s industry takeover, but not without justification. The blood brother of A Tribe Called Quest’s front man Q-Tip, Quence (as he refers to himself) dropped a memorable opening verse on ATCQ’ s 1996 single ‘Stressed Out’. Years of putting in work behind higher-profile artists has paid off, though, with “Take ‘Em To The Cleaners”, a mixtape-styled release loaded with new songs and freestyles.
The presence of Kanye West is strongly felt throughout the whole thing, as the Louis Vuitton Don either produces or guest raps on seven of the 20 tracks. This being the case, Consequence manages to keep all ears on him with a confident delivery as he attacks topics ranging from the opposite sex to lesser-skilled lyricists. His flow is entertaining, sporting a flashy sense of wit rather than spitting conscious narratives in the vein of his boy Kanye. “Take ‘Em To The Cleaners” successfully establishes Consequence as an able solo act, with occasional lapses in creativity being overshadowed by natural ability.
‘So Soulful’ kicks off the album perfectly, placing tight verses courtesy of Kanye, Quence, newcomer Khayree, and crooner John Legend over a vibrant blend of piano keys, guitar chords and rapid bass. Both the energy and infectious nature of ‘So Soulful’ are undeniable, showing that West’s production capabilities are as impressive as ever. Common, Talib Kweli join Consequence and West on the sucker-MC slaying ‘Wack Niggas’, a track that could have easily seen Quence being drowned out by his veteran peers. This surprisingly isn’t the case, with Consequence blazing West’s subdued percussion with a standout verse:
“You know you’re wack when your dogs tell you ‘That’s hot’ but they know that your flow is weak
Cuz you only got them there to ‘Say Yes’ like Floetry
The clique that I oversee ain’t impressed by your poetry, or the pimp you supposed to be,
You ain’t coming close to me
It’s not that you’re underrated, it’s more that you’re underdated, and mediocre at best is all the hoes you ever dated
For all your guest appearances, you couldn’t get the clearances, fake images to check, they don’t respect you as a lyricist
Look at what your lyrics is: murder, death, kill
But you never shot nothin’, never have, never will
Better add onto your skills before you join this round robin of super MCs that’ll add to your problems.”
Some of the album’s hottest moments come when Consequence and Kanye West expertly exhibit their verbal chemistry, trading verses and bars back and forth effortlessly. The duo updates Souls of Mischief ’93 ‘Til Infinity’on ’03 ‘Til Infinity (Freestyle)’, and delivers financial narratives over West’s funky old-school sounding instrumental on ‘Take It As A Loss’. ‘Getting Out The Game’ smoothes the mood out nicely with nostalgic violins, as Quence and West discuss leaving the playa game behind thanks to the finding of true love.
The album’s centerpiece ‘I See Now’ is hot enough to warrant instant satisfaction, featuring West and North Carolina’s Little Brother. Uniting the talents of Kanye West with young production genius 9th Wonder sounds like a fantasy collaboration, one that comes to wonderful fruition on ‘I See Now’. 9th Wonder’s faint vocal samples and steadily plucked guitar strings sets a neck-snapping mood as West, Quence, Phonte, and Big Pooh call out females who gain weight for all the wrong reasons. Kanye West may be the game’s most noted beat-maker, but 9th Wonder is one or two prolific creations away from rivaling West’s spot at the top.
When Consequence holds down ‘Take ‘Em To The Cleaners’ by himself, the results are mixed. ‘Niggas Tried To? (Freestyle)’ uses the same beat heard on Puff Daddy’s ‘Reverse’ as Quence serves payback to men who attempted to rob him, while showing off a more thugged-out persona not heard anywhere else on this disc. Consequence’s favorite discussion topic is the female gender, something that is made obvious on this album but tends to get a bit repetitive as songs roll along. While the 88 Keyes-produced ‘Turn Yaself In’ creates an engaging tempo for our host to spit his game at the ladies, his exercises in romanticizing are generally uninspired. Tracks like ‘Trains’ and ‘You & Your Nigga’ suffer from bland production and equally boring lyrics about sexual escapades and baby-daddy drama.
“Take ‘Em To The Cleaners” is an overall triumph for Consequence, providing listeners with enough audio heat to fit these upcoming summer months just right. With gifted lyrical abilities, he lets the world know why Kanye West has chosen him as his first artist to promote with his newfound fame. When the time comes for Consequence to release his official debut, let’s hope he switches up his subject matter a bit and takes more chances like his partner Kanye has done. Despite this discrepancy, as long as he keeps rhyming over the banging work of masters like Kanye West and 9th Wonder, Consequence’s shortcomings will continue to be forgiven. This mercy will not last forever, though, so only time will tell if he truly has what it takes to reach heavyweight status.