The Last Stand

Artist: Boot Camp Clik

Album: The Last Stand

Label: Duck Down

Rating : 6 / 10

Reviewer: DJ MF

So what does it take to remove me from my hibernation?

A new Boot Camp album, that’s what.

Back yet again, this time for their 3rd group release, and 2nd group release as an 8 man crew, Boot Camp follows up their well received 2nd LP, “The Chosen Few”, with “The Last Stand”, which apparently is not meant to indicate that it’s their last album, but the album where they make a statement about hip hop in its current form.

If that sounds pretentious, then guess what – you’re right.

The big news with “The Last Stand” is that Rock is back in the fold after a few years of being orphaned in the wilderness. Having heard his material during that self imposed exile, it wasn’t as though the Clik really missed him. The other big news with “The Last Stand” is that it serves as the followup to last years ‘Triple Threat’ Duck Down release schedule, which saw Smif-n-Wessun, Buckshot and Sean Price all release albums in a 3 month span, reinvigorating the sagging fortunes of the once proud crew and record label.

What’s weird however, is that in the midst of this ‘reawakening’, something has been lost. Most listeners would agree that the first crop of Boot Camp albums were certified classics. Most listeners would also agree that the second crop of Boot Camp albums were certified bunk. The ‘third wave’ has produced mixed results. While not BAD albums per se, they also are not necessarily GOOD albums. Whether it has been a decline in talent, a decline in inspiration, or hip hop having passed them by, the last few Boot Camp albums have been pretty milquetoast, all things considered.

Unfortunately, “The Last Stand” falls in line with this as well.

It’s not a bad album. And it’s not a good album. There are no standout tracks. There are no embarassingly bad tracks. They all seem to be middling. And for once, interestingly enough, it’s not the beats that do a Boot Camp album in – it’s the MCs.

“The Last Stand” is filled with beats by a lot of different producers – Pete Rock, Large Professor, Coptic, Ken BB, Ill Mind, Marco Polo, Beatminerz, Attic… and everyones favorite metronome producer, 9th Wonder. They all do a pretty good job with what they have. Marco Polo especially does a great job, contributing on 3 tracks – the lead single ‘Yeah’ which features some nice jumpy drumwork and a great horn loop that would make Pete Rock smile, ‘He Gave His Life’ which utilizes a haunting vocal sample over subdued drums, and ‘Hate All You Want’ which to me is really what BCC should be striving for in 2006- a hard beat that actually moves rather than plods. Ken BB also adds in a great beat with ‘Trading Places’ – one in the tradition of ‘Triumph’ by the Wu – constant bass and drums, mid-tempo, nothing too fancy, and he lets the MCs shine.

The overwhelming problem with the album as mentioned earlier however, are the rappers.

Don’t worry about Sean Price and Rock. They absolutely KILL every beat they touch. I cannot emphasize this enough. Sean Price is quickly becoming a top tier MC. Albeit one that can only rap about how he’ll stick you up and rob you. For example -

P! Yo, y’all niggas act tough like Bokeem Woodbine
Until you get slapped like Penny from Good Times
Sean Price got too many hood rhymes
But keep gettin’ knocked, I did so many hood crimes
It looks like a job for Superman
Up, up and away, then gun buck with the trey
Conversatin’, congregatin’, I got twelve disciples
They all got rifles and neh’ one of ‘em like you, Let’s Go

Rock has returned with a vengeance, spitting lyrics that will remind you of his “Nocturnal” days when everyone thought he was the big star in Heltah Skeltah. Witness -

Niggas be shakin’ like pits when they lock on, I rock on
Calm, in these streets or in jail, gettin’ my high rocks on
Even though I rock with the red, gettin’ my pop on
I’m a D-E-C-E-P-T-Icon
You mutha fuckin’ right, Pa, I fight hard and I like crons
It ain’t my fault I don’t like y’all [Word], stop actin’ like broads
Fold yo’ bitch ass up, you a tripod
We don’t need no cameras for this version of “Die Hard”
Oh my God! Oh my goodness, no, say “Oh my Rockness”
I’m a God to y’all, Rock, damn it, all of y’all my kids
All of y’all doin’ shit I done did years ago
So all y’all suck my dick in stereo

Their contributions alone lift the LP up, and make you look forward to a new Heltah Skeltah LP. The BIG problem in the lyrics department are the vets – Buckshot and Smif-n-Wessun. I’d include OGC in this diatribe, but their involvement is so pathetic as to not warrant a mention, especially the immensely talented Starang, who seems to be frittering away what he once had. It’s one thing to say that Louieville Sluggah or Top Dogg suck – it’s like taking pot shots at Cappadonna. Starang however, always had that ‘it’ factor. And now it’s gone. Read this bollocks for example -

Hey yo, I usually ain’t into chasin’ the mommy’s
Get it then I hit it like Jason Giambi
Until I met Wendy up in Envy
She had a coupe and a Bentley, the inside Fendi
Hey yo, she friendly, far from your average groupie
The hoochie ate sushi and kept her coochie in Gucci
I knew she was checkin’ me out
Then locked in her sight, she never lettin’ me out
We parkin’ lot pimpin’, frontin’ on a celly
Mesmerized by the tattoo on her belly
I came with Sean P, she came with Tawana
You shoulda seen those ho’s ass in these Dolce Gabbana’s

Like seriously. It’s a children’s fucking limerick for fucks sake. Coochie rhymed with Gucci? Celly and belly? Jesus.

But back to Tek, Steele and Buckshot…

The three are on almost ALL of the tracks on the album, and truth be told, only live up to their ‘status’ within the Clik a handful of times. Buck is still rapping about how the record industry hates him, and has regressed once again back to his pseudo 2Pac flow. Tek has abandoned all pretense of a reggae influenced style that I thought he’d more strongly adopt after the last few albums, and now sounds like a 2nd rate mealy mouthed southern rapper. Worst of all, Steele, apart from two songs (‘Trading Places’ and ‘Let’s Go’) can now be officially called a shite MC – he sounds bored and like he doesn’t give a shit. Combine that with a monotone delivery (he always had it, but now it’s front and center), and you have the makings of a disaster.

All that venom now out, I can say however that there are a number of tracks on the LP to keep you entertained – ‘Let’s Go’, ‘Hate All You Want’, ‘Trading Places’ (with the clever twist on lyrics between Heltah Skeltah and Smif-n-Wessun). But by and large, the album suffers from too much largesse – tracks that seem slapped together lyrically depending on who showed up in the studio that day, and tracks that seem to go on too long. The cries of ‘we want a true BCC album’ were probably heard, and of course, they overkilled it.

So. Nothing new here. A Boot Camp album with shortcomings. It’s just that the shortcomings are surprising this time. I’ll look forward to ignoring future work from OGC/Smif-n-Wessun/Buckshot, and pray that Heltah Skeltah gets signed to G-Unit at some point. Or wait for the next Sean P album at the very least.

6 out of 10. With 4 marks alone on Ruck and Rock.