Label: Ruff Life
Rating: 8 / 10
Reviewer: DJ MF
An album that should have been released over 3 years ago has finally dropped with the entry of Pacewon’s solo debut, “Won”.
Like I said- it’s been a LONG time. Heavily bootlegged in its early stages after the initial buzz that his Outsidaz crew made on the hip hop world, Pace seems to have been working this album forever. But with that being said, the man finally has delivered. Long viewed as the most talented member of the Outz, and in my opinion the only one with a voice approaching puberty (yes, that’s a joke), Pace has constructed one of the most consistent albums of the year with his debut, that sadly, will almost certainly be overlooked by everyone but the most hardcore Outsidaz fans.
The album is littered with tracks that have seen the light of day many years ago, including such now near classic tracks that saw official release like ‘Sunroof Top’ and ‘I Declare War’, the former now having gained fame as one of the theme tracks of ESPN’s ‘The Life’, and other bootlegged tracks such as ‘It’s Yours’ featuring Wyclef and ‘Thievz Theme’, the latter in a slightly reworked mould.
Usually with albums like this, that have been bootlegged and reworked multiple times, this inclusion of older tracks with newer material will often create a jarring style in contrasts – artists change over time, and when you’re talking a period of 3 years, it can seem like a lifetime. A perfect example of this would be Ras Kass of course, whose album has been reworked to the point that my previous review would seem like a falsity in retrospect. However, Pace manages to escape this trap. Part of it would lie in the fact that, well, he hasn’t changed up all that much. When he keeps it original, the result is inevitably success, as the tracks ‘World Renown’, ‘Won’, ‘Like This’ and ‘Fresh’ prove. All four tracks serve as LP standouts among the new material because they keep it simple in classic Outsidaz form, with a rubbery bassline, and little else – the perfect soundscape for the smirking bragaddacio that the crew has become known for.
On the flip, tracks such as ‘You’ and ‘Bring It Out of Me’ keep the bragging style, but soften the beats up, while keeping things sounding good- to these ears it sounds like a deliberate attempt to commercialize (for lack of a better word), that still works quite well. Never mind that Pace also switches it up a little as well, going to a more story based style rather than just spitting out random punchlines.
On the downside, about the only time the album falters in the slightest is on one of the collabos, and the remix of ‘I Declare War’. The collabo I’m talking about is ‘Money Hungry’ featuring the normally dependable Rah Digga, which just sounds too synthetic to these ears. The remix of ‘I Declare War’, which I will admit, does its job and sounds NOTHING like the original, is a complete disgrace to the original. They switch things up to an almost reggae type feel, a 180 degree switch from the sparse sample driven beat of the original. I’m sure some will like it – I don’t.
To conclude, like I said previously, to describe this album in one word, you’d say ‘consistent’. There’s loads of older material that still sounds as fresh today as when it dropped, and the new material that is present is up to par. A definite ‘must buy’ purchase if you can find it – and if you’ve bootlegged it in the past, that’s probably the least you can do for Mr. Pace.