Album: Dirty Work
Label: UJ Empire
Rating: 7 / 10
Reviewer: A to the L
There are some cats in the HipHop world who are destined to be forever slept on : cats who birth solid albums but remain criminally beneath the surface, usually under a heap of hype for the next wack emcee of the moment. Think the Double XX Posse. Think Count Bass D. Hopefully Tzarizm won’t be an addition to that unfortunate list, despite the fact that his omens don’t look good to begin with.
Why? Well first up is the fact that I copped this album the week it dropped with the idea of banging out a review real quick for it. LAST July (2003). Yeah A to the L dropped the ball on this one – apologies to my man Conshus and the whole UJ Empire for my procrastination. I mean – its not like I didn’t listen to “Dirty Work” at all : I span it a few times, jotted down a few ideas on how I was gonna handle this review, and then : nothing. I slept.
And now here I sit on a plane bound for Florida typing on a wack-ass laptop I ganked from the office two nights before I left (heyo I WILL leave it back : nobody really wants to keep a Toshiba that weighs 2 tons and still pushes Windows 95 anyway!) The fact that I’m returning to Tzar’s stomping ground for the first time since last July sparked the guilt trip in me, and so last night I figured that at least one of the eight and a half hours I’m stuck in this big metal bird should be spent finally writing the man’s joint up.
So : here we are. Florida cat Tzarizm is first up to bat for the UJ Empire crew on a largely self-produced album that promises to build on the initial buzz created last year from his tracks featured on the UJ Empire promotional sampler. As I mentioned in THAT review, you need to put all thoughts of Miami Bass music out your dome before you begin listening – Tzar represents the real Hiphop – hard beats, witty rhymes : y’all know the deal.
Things start off well with ‘5-5-90’ setting out the pattern for things to come. A simple drum pattern that still carries a hefty injection of bass allows Tzar to spit a little autobiographical intro. The first thing that jumps out of the headphones is the aggressive delivery this man has – the rugged edge on the beat balances perfectly with his rapidfire gruffness. This carries into the next track ‘Dream Dwella’ – yeah it’s a tale that’s been done a million times before – emcee has crazy nocturnal thoughts and shares them with us : but the delivery and the slickly produced beat from his brother Nemo makes this very addictive.
‘Yes To Day’ is superb. String heavy, this track allows Tzar to tell us EXACTLY how he got where he is today – his journey from Memphis, Tennessee to Orlando is broken down in stunning detail. There are several tracks like this, throughout the album where every component comes together to make some perfect Hiphop – the beats are on point, the rhymes flow smoothly over them, and the whole vibe is butter. ‘This Way’ with its warm horn break, and ‘Emceez Wateva’ with its spittin’-in-the-cypher feel both come to mind as examples.
However its not all rosy in the garden. At 26 tracks deep, it’s quite a bulky album to get through in one sitting, and it does have its fair share of filler. The awkward ‘Veteranz Day’, its bland follow up ‘Authentik’ and the double-time ‘Dirty Mouthz’ (which just seems to have been tossed on cos most albums last year had a joint like this) are all candidates to hit the studio floor in a fat-trimming exercise.
Lets not get it twisted though – this is NOT a bad album. The amount of good tracks do outnumber the bad, and make this worthy of your interest. In addition to the cuts already described, and the two cuts from the sampler (‘Sheema’ and the reviewers-hate-typing-my-name ‘Ahahahahaha!!’) which I already told you were dope, other strong tracks like the crazy cartoon styled samples on ‘Here It Goez’, the fierce ‘Lion Kingz’, and the mellow ‘Life Maintenance’ push this towards “pick this album up” territory.
Lets hope that Tzar does get a bump off this : its obvious that the cat is talented, and it would be shame if after his hard work he only remains in the “local” arena. More people need to be doing what he and the UJ cats are trying – putting out Hiphop that’s true to them, and that’s actually worth listening to.
Now where’s that flight attendant with my Pepsi?