Album: North West Ridin’
Label: Bow Wow Records
Rating: 4 / 10
Reviewer: A to the L
Maybe its the Hiphop snob in me coming out, but when I see albums with covers like this, based around the Pen and Pixel style that Master P championed, alarm bells start to go off automatically. You see, my experiences of joints with P&P covers have NEVER been positive – whether its battling to understand the fascination with Percy Miller’s lethargic delivery, or the simple fact that these kind of low-budget looking covers usually mean a similarly low-budget album hiding behind the pasted-on ice and dogs – these things make me suspicious.
So… Bow Wow Records – what’s their story? Well, they’re based in Seattle, and came into being around 1995 when Shon Peterson (from here on known by his rap moniker Mr D.O.G.) decided that he wanted Hiphop heads to hear what Washington State had to offer. As well as releasing several albums himself, he has also been the driving force behind this compilation – a chance for people to check out the Bow Wow Records artists, and the production backing them up.
First opinions? FONK! Producers Funk Daddy and Big Squeeze handle the boardwork on most of the compilation, and provide a potent mix of Bay Area funk, LA gangsta shit, and grimey Dirty South staccatto rhythms for the artists to rhyme over. There are minus points to the production too though – there’s a tendency to use famililar funk breaks a little too much, with ‘Atomic Dog’ being dragged from the crates for its umpteenth appearance as a sample; also the re-working of other tracks is OK now and again, but when Mr D.O.G’s ‘Da Aquaman II’ is a remake of LL’s ‘I’m Bad’ (which doesn’t come close to topping the energy of the original) and is followed later by K-$wi$$’s revisit to Xscape’s ‘Just Kickin’ (this one called ‘Just Hustlin’) its hard to fight off accusations of plagarism.
Elsewhere though, Mac Money’s boastful ‘I Puts It Down’ has just the right mix of egocentric bragging and slapback bass to appeal. Similarly, Mr D.O.G’s uptempo collab with Cool Nutz, ‘NW Game’, and the summery ‘Pieced Up’ by Sporty both promise repeat listens. Its the appearance of Ras Kass on a remix of ‘I Gets Paper’ that really stands out though – Funkdaddy’s crunchy bass effects and claps raise the tempo as the GoldenChyld trades verses with Mr D.O.G. and Mac Money.
West coast fans especially will perhaps find this worth checking for. Many though will find that several of the tracks seem to blend into each other a little too much – there’s little to make them REALLY stand out from each other. In ways its a typical West coast album – heavy on the funk, which compliments the often simplistic flows and lyrical content well. However with the likes of E-40 having this style on lock, it’s really gonna take something special to push its way into the reckoning. Although “North West Ridin'” shows some positive signs, ultimately it still has a long way to go to truly be able to hang with the big boyz.