Artist: Tame One
Album: When Rappers Attack
Label: Eastern Conference Records
Rating: 9 / 10
Reviewer: DJ MF
How To Spot A New Jack, by MF
1) Get them to go on about how more crews should make songs about shoes like Nelly’s ‘Air Force Ones’.
2) Get them to say something stupid like ‘So and So the Unknown Rapper is better than Rakim’.
3) Ask them if they know who the Artifacts are.
The above elitist bullshit was brought to you by me.
Of course, I’m just playing around, but truth be told, the Artifacts/Brick City Kids were dope as fuck back in the day, and I still don’t think they ever got the love they deserved. El The Sensei and Tame One dropped some incredible music in their time, and “Between A Rock And A Hard Place” can easily be considered one of the best rap albums of all time (even though everyone always forgets about it).
So admit it, when you heard that Eastern Conference of all people had signed Tame One to a solo deal a few years back, you were probably happy, but more than a little concerned. Afterall, the vibe of EC isn’t exactly Artifactsesque, with their demented lyricism (hello Cage and Eon), and distinctive production mainly through Mighty Mi.
Thankfully, such fears are not just put to rest with “When Rappers Attack”, they’re buried multiple times, followed by a cremation and a spreading into the Pacific Ocean.
In terms of beats, “When Rappers Attack” is chock full of the ‘EC’ sound, strangely without much base EC production from Mi himself. “When Rappers Attack” is full of funky samples, seedy sounds, and rubbery basslines, but never sounds repetitive, mostly because of the wide range of producers used. Building upon the success of ‘Tame As It Ever Was’ from the EC3 compilation, J-Zone laces Tame One with a couple more, umm, heaters, on ‘Heat’, with a jangly guitar sample, the now standard cartoony sound effects, and vocal samples, and ‘Slick Talkin’ with what can only be described as a ridiculously demented guitar sample riding the beat. Speaking of which :in case you missed it the first time, ‘Tame As It Ever Was’ is found here as well :unchanged and still as dope as before, with it’s soaring instrumental.
That’s not to say that Zone is the only producer who brings his A-game to “When Rappers Attack”. The aforementioned Mighty Mi comes correct with the Slick Rick remake ‘Moment I Feared’, and MHz/Weathermen member Camu Tao comes through with a couple of his own impressive tracks to add to his quickly expanding production resume, including ‘Akt Right’ and the title track. The standouts however, come from another MHz alum, RJD2, and fellow Boom Skwad member DJ Porno, with ‘Up 2 No Good Again’ and ‘Homage 2 Da Bomberz’ respectively. The former sounds like something right out of the “Between A Rock And A Hard Place” catalogue, and the latter is a more sparse continuation of “Wrong Side Of The Tracks”.
Of course, this isn’t a PRODUCTION album, so it’s up to Tame to carry the LP lyrically, considering there is only one guest on the LP. Fortunately, he’s more than up to the task, proving he can go the solo route, not just well, but creatively. By no means is he missing his former partner El, and actually, being on his own will only make you notice his lyrical improvements more. Obviously you’re getting a ton of braggadocio and metaphor laden lyricism, but what’s interesting is that Tame gets into some conceptual stuff as well, including ‘Dreamz’ where he’s going over, you guessed it, his dreams, and the aforementioned ‘Homage 2 Da Bomberz’, where he’s going over, you guessed it, graffiti.
All in all, coming in at only 12 tracks, with no skits, “When Rappers Attack” is a polar opposite to many releases being dropped today- no filler and few to no guests. Much like another famous super short LP dropped in the early nineties, this only benefits Tame, as his debut LP on EC remains easy to listen on repeat, and shouldn’t tire you out anytime soon. About the only criticism one can make of the LP is that it offers up a handful of tracks that we’ve heard before, but considering they’re all dope, and weren’t accessible to everyone in the first place, that’s not exactly a fatal flaw. This can only bode well for EC as a label, as they’ve now dropped 3 incredible solo debuts in the last year (Cage, Copywrite, and now Tame).