Album: All Bets Off
Label: Conglomerate Records
Rating: 7 / 10
Reviewer: Joe Castro
Juice is one of the illest battle emcees of all time (if you think that is an overstatement – ask the person sitting next to you), but do you know what else he is? On , his latest album, Juice attempts to answer that question in as many ways as possible.
First off, Juice would like you to know he’s more than an adequate songwriter. If you’re like most people who’ve only heard him battle, then he addresses most of the album to you. Juice steps away from the battle front to craft ideas, concepts, and accomplish the overrall goal of a musician (making solid songs) with a few of the tracks on the album.
Depending upon how high of a standard you try to hold him to, he pulls this off fairly well. On ‘Sick of Hustlin’, Juice and guest Marvo take the time to reflect on the ills, experiences, and observations that accrue in the life of a hustler. Its a decent track and one which definitely prepares the crowd for a side of Juice they may not have yet become aquainted with. ‘Weekend Girl’ finds Juice trading lines with guest Profound. As the title would suggest this song is about a certain type of girl that can be best described with the words “never spend the night with her / never spend the day with her / if we play it cool / we can both have our way with her.” Another standout on the album is ‘All U Got’, which gives Juice the chance to, well just be ill. In that same vein, be sure to check out ‘I Rap Like’.
Second, even though underground acclaim has been synonymous with being a starving artist, Juice wants you to know he ain’t broke. He seeks to reaffirm this with tracks such as ‘J.U.I.C.E.’, ‘Money’, and ‘All Bets Off’. Although these are not bad tracks at all (the production is a tad generic), you can tell Juice made these tracks for heads who may not grasp what he’s really trying to do with the rest of the album. Worth a listen, but they won’t make you work your fingers on the rewind button as hard as you may on other joints on the album.
Another thing Juice wants you to know is he ain’t no punk. A handful of gun references, beat down references, shouts to sets in the Windy City, and some love shown to his West Coast gang affiliations on a few cuts – nuff said.
Regardless of what new ideas Juice wants to impress on the listener about himself with this album, he wants you to never forget that he’s a battle rapper. You’d be hard-pressed to find a single cut on the album where he doesn’t take at least a brief second to grab his own manhood and spit on other weak emcees in the process. The album strays away from the typical ‘battle emcee’ material, but if you are used to hearing Juice just go off the dome in a ridiculous fashion there are a couple interludes of him lyrically excercising. Also check ‘Thanks For Having Me’. That last remark Juice makes with ‘All Bets Off’ is that he’s repping Chicago, hard. Validate this by listening to any track on the album, but specifically ‘Walk With Me’ which plays out like a Chicago traffic report featuring appearances by Paul Masson, Ronnie Black, and C Major. Most Chicago heads can appreciate lines like “stick ball / playing dice by the brick wall / say bloody Mary three times, that bitch will get y’all” on the song ‘Black’.
One weakness as a whole on the album is that some of the production can get slightly monotonous, which can hold this offering back a little. However, it’s respectable because Juice opts out of using big name producers, which gives the up and coming producers opportunity on this album to shine and show promise. So to answer the question of who he is, it turns out he’s everything you thought he was and quite a bit of what you may have thought he wasn’t.