Album: High Times Presents… THC
Label: High Times
Rating: 7.5 / 10
Reviewer: DJ MF
“Don’t smoke buddha, can’t stand sess”
Some guy named Rob Base with some DJ named EZ Rock.
So yeah, shoot me. I don’t smoke. I don’t inhale. I don’t inject. I don’t drop. Unless you count caffeine, and the occasional nicotine fix, I’m a drug free man. Does this mean I shouldn’t be going near this compilation sponsored and presented by High Times Magazine? Of course not. And unless tight hip hop makes you cough up a lung, don’t hesitate to cop this album.
Assembling a veritable all-star (to me) cast of hip hop acts is a great start. Simply put, this album is filled with great sounding ‘in between’ hip hop. Meaning not underground, and not commercial. With acts ranging from the dementia of the High and Mighty, to the ruggedness of Black Moon, to the weed smoking antics of Cypress Hill (what, you thought they’d miss this?), this album should appeal to almost anyone.
Probably the best part of the album, and an under-developed aspect of many hip hop releases out nowadays, is how uniform and theme oriented all the songs are. Sure, it’s not asking much to get a rapper to talk about drugs, but still, the vibe that this album exudes is PERFECT for just chilling, and umm, you know… puffing.
Things start off with the menacing ‘Bart Burnt’, featuring yet another banging Mighty Mi beat. On his own, Eon has a tendency to overstay his welcome, especially when the beats get a little faster – that’s where having someone like Cage comes in handy. Luckily, the slower pace of the beat serves him perfectly, as he spins his tale of Bart, and how he’s burning all day long. A dope cut, and a step above the recently released “Air Force One” EP.
Moving on, things REALLY pick up with the Beatminerz produced track by Black Moon, ‘High Times’ featuring Sean Price, Starang, and Top Dogg. I know. Take what I say about the BCC with a grain of salt. But this is REALLY good. Find it and listen for yourself if you don’t believe me. The Minerz facilitate a minimalist beat with a thundering bassline, and a nice mix of samples ranging from Toni Braxton to Raekwon to give the track a really smoky feel. Perfect. Especially with the lyrics, which following the aforementioned theme, are basically Buck, Sean P, and Starang giving you their views on drug use, with Sean Price and his short verse coming off the funniest.
The Serial Rhyme Killers follow with ‘Something About Mary’ – this is another front for Cypress Hill, since B-Real is all over the track. In sharp contrast to the two preceding tracks, this is a WAY faster paced track, with Muggs using some whiny guitars in the background. To me, he’s regressed as a producer, and I’d say it’s almost solely because so many of his beats sound like this. Very generic. B-Real is B-Real when it comes to lyrics. Either you love him or you hate him. What is noticeable is that his voice has deepened. Puberty anyone?
‘Sweet Dreams’ by the Intoxicated Demons is up next, and just like you’d expect from the former Beatnuts, the track is menacing, but with an almost comic feel imparted, almost solely by the short piano loop they use. I’m feeling the reggae hook, but really, this track is pretty pedestrian.
The recently incarcerated Shaabam Sahdeeq is up next, paired with Steele of Smif-N-Wessun for ‘Roll Up’. Straight up, Shaabam is booty. However, the beat is fairly interesting with a sample that sounds ripped from a 70’s sitcom – I just can’t put my finger on it. Unfortunately the better half of Smif-N-Wessun is relegated to chorus duty for the track. What is it with cats putting guests solely on hooks nowadays? First, Tribeca does it with Pharoah, and now I see this.
Who is Hom? Damned if I know. What you should know is that the track ‘Puff Puff Pass’ is supremely skippable – mostly because of his voice. He kinda sounds like Lil’ Wayne if he was 5 years older. Never a good thing. It doesn’t help that the beat doesn’t change up at all over the course of the 4 minutes – usually the first sign of someone not knowing what they’re doing.
Thankfully, Defari brings the dopeness back with the next track ‘Bomb Tree’. I’ve always felt Defari was extremely underrated, and his latest releases, including this track, seem to only be reinforcing my belief. The beat has a very distorted panicky feel, and Defari’s slow flow contrasts with the syncopated bass stabs nicely, as he tells you about how the west puts their trees down, and how he’s tried weed from all over the world. Nice.
Afu-Ra follows with a beat that sounds ripped from the Dre catalogue circa 1992. ‘Get Your Head Right’ is a track that would bang PERFECTLY this summer in a well equipped whip. The lazy synth sample floats nicely over the rubbery bassline, as Afu expresses his love for weed. A really nice track, and a pleasant departure for Afu in terms of beat production.
Veterans the Pharcyde show up next with ‘Sticky Green’, this time deal with the subject of… umm… weed. I REALLY like this beat. It’s almost like a Neptunes production, but with a bundle more creativity, including some nice bass runs, and a gorgeous horn, along with a looped guitar sample. Phar holds it down collectively as well, switching up their flow expertly to stay on the jittery beat.
The Likwit Crew, this time repped by J-Ro, Phil Da Agony, and Chocolat bring ‘Big Green Buds’ next, and continue the hit streak for the THC Compilation. A playful synth melody over a sparse drum arrangement, and each of the 3 dropping some nice rhymes about smoking, with Phil showing why he might just be the next big thing out of Cali.
Underground hero MF Doom shows up with ‘My Favorite Ladies’, and to say that this man’s flow is untouchable would be underrating it. The beat is PERFECT for Doom, with a dark bassline interspersed with some keys. Of course, the metaphor of ‘ladies’ ain’t that hard to figure out, but the way he flips it is sweet. Next to ‘High Times’, probably my favorite track on the LP.
Unfortunately, another speed bump is hit with the tracks by Lootpack and Ripshop, entitled ‘Take A Hit’ and ‘Escape’ respectively. They simply, to my ears at least, don’t sound like they fit with the rest of the album. Be it the sleepy Jay-Dee-esque production on ‘Take A Hit’, or the general malaise induced in me by ‘Escape’, these two track just don’t do the trick.
Luckily, not all is lost, as the albums ends with one of the most tripped out RZA tracks I’ve ever heard, staying true to the ‘High Times’ moniker. The beat just DRAGS, but amazingly, it doesn’t ruin the track. Joined by Timbo King, RZA sounds drugged out of his mind, and the way that he laces the track with a beautiful vocal sample saying ‘so high’ will send shivers up your spine. More than any other track on this compilation, you can almost see the drugs in RZA and Timbo’s systems as they recorded this. Dope.
So that does it.
It’s funny how I normally write my overall impression at the top of the review, and do the song by song breakdown. This is one of the rare times where looking at the song by song breakdown, it doesn’t really match up with what I said at the top. As a WHOLE, this album is very tight. Taken song by song, it may not hold up. Of course, that probably won’t apply to most of the people who listen to this anyways – because if they’re doing what the music is saying, listening through the whole thing shouldn’t be a problem.