Artist: Craig G
Album: This Is Now (Official Bootleg Mixtape)
Label: D&D Records
Rating: 8 / 10
Reviewer: A to the L
You gotta feel a little sorry for Craig G. The former Juice Crew member never really got the props or success that his compatriots from Marley Marl’s House of Hits had heaped on their heads. While Kane got the ladies, Master Ace got the critical claim for his themed albums, Biz got the peoples’ laughing, and G Rap kept it gangsta, Craig G kinda dropped off everyone’s radar. Despite his reputation as a fearsome battle rhymer and a skilled DJ, as the Juice Crew’s collective star started to wane, folks recorded all the other members to their “happy memories” file, and forgot all about the cat who dropped science.
Craig has been busy though, he ain’t stopped working. Continuing to add to his underground rep as a freestyle virtuoso, he was eventually approached by the producers of Eminem’s “8 Mile” movie, who wanted him to work with Slim Shady in writing the rhymes for all the battle scenes. I think those of you who have peeped the flick can agree that Craig still has some major skills with a pen – some of his one liners were straight bugged.
Now in 2003, Craig G has signed to D&D Records, recording offshoot of the legendary D&D Studios and has his new album “This Is Now” ready to hit the streets. Finding it hard to let go of his underground roots though, he and D&D have decided to build a little more anticipation for the official release by putting out this little “official bootleg” preview containing several cuts from the album, and various freestyles over this month’s collection of hot beats. The whole caboodle is mixed by Black Moon DJ Evil Dee (“on the mix, c’mon kick it!”)
So what does Craig bring to the table for the 2G3? Well the new tracks are definitely impressive, with the mixtape opening with the Curt Cazal-produced ‘Don’t Care Who We Bang’, a heavy thumper which will become a mixtape favourite of many a bedroom DJ in the next little while. The current single, ‘Lets Get It’ has Craig G reuniting with mentor Marley for an old school flavoured return to Juice Crew terrority, while fellow Queens emcee Mr Cheeks (from the Lost Boyz) combines with Craig on ‘Now That’s Whats Up’, a bouncy mid tempo number that has Hot 97 written all over it. ‘Say What Ya Want’ has a similar flavour – bounce bounce bounce, this time provided by Arabian Knight. All the while Craig confidently and coolly wrecks shit – he hasn’t lost anything in his old age.
The classic Hiphop staple, the freestyle, is really where Craig G comes into his own though. Here you got 8 or 9 different freestyle spots over beats ranging from The Firm’s ‘Phone Tap’, to Nas’ ‘Made You Look’, to Mobb Deep’s ‘Burn’, to Black Rob’s ‘Whoa’. In each instance Craig turns on the afterburners, blowing the competition away with some devastating lines…
“What about your real life persona? You never said ‘Your Honour’,
Never got caught in drama, Handcuffed in your pyjamas,
Led to a squad car, so where’s your heart pa?
Your life’s exactly what this is – entertainment,
Never have you appeared at an arraignment,
Never saw your man die with EMS tries to sustain him,
You wouldn’t believe some of the shit that’s on my brain son…”
The official tracks on here promise much from the real album – its certainly evident that Craig G hasn’t lost any of his lyrical skills, and the production on the tracks on display here is impressive. For those who weren’t around the first time, this is a cheap and easy way to get yourself acquainted with Craig G – you should seek this out as a nice little taster of what the album should be like. For those who were lucky enough for the appearance of the Juice Crew, you’ll already know how dope Craig G is – now’s your chance to give him the support that you forgot to come through with last time, when you jocked Kane and G Rap instead! Seriously though, look out for the album, cos on this evidence, its gonna be ill.