REVIEW: Duck Down Presents… The Album

Duck Down Presents... The Album

Artist: Various

Album: Duck Down Presents… The Album

Label: Duck Down

Rating: 7 / 10

Reviewer: DJ MF

You are Duck Down Records. You’ve released 4 debut LP’s from 4 of the hottest new names in the hip hop industry, Black Moon, Heltah Skeltah, Smif N’ Wessun, and the OGC, who combined make up the crew known as the Bootcamp Clik. These debut LP’s are causing many in the industry to proclaim Duck Down as the next legendary imprint. And then you drop a group LP, entitled “For The People”, that abandons everything you stood for in the past (dirty beats, hard lyrics), in favor of a softer, R&B flavoured vibe. Not only that, but you dilute the group LP with the addition of new members no one had heard of before, and jettison the better known members to one or two tracks.

Not a recipe for success. Perhaps it was going to happen anyways, but the release of “For The People” devastated the fan base that the BCC had accumulated. It’s repurcussions are felt today by the label, as they were just recently dropped from Priority Records due to lacklustre sales. The effect cannot be understated.

So a couple of years ago, Duck Down tried to make amends by releasing this LP, “Duck Down Presents”, as a sequel of sorts to “For The People”. Containing new tracks, B-sides, and unreleased tracks, it wasn’t a proper follow-up, but it was a BCC group album, and that’s all I cared about. On to the fun.

1) Jump Up – Black Moon
An unreleased track from Black Moon that sounds like it was recorded during their “Enta Da Stage” days. Very dark bassy beat provided by Evil Dee, and it sounds like they’ve flipped a Biggie sample for the background melody. The bass is overwhelming on this track, and in during the chorus you get an echo effect of a crowd cheering. Very nice, and Buckshot also comes correct with his distinct run on flow, taking on all comers to the Black Moon throne.

“Niggas on the block is jealous of me
Jealous cuz they see a nigga frequently
B-D-B shine like jewelry
Bust like a mothafuckin three-eighty
Reload the clip automatically
We known to flip automatically
You can call Buckshot Your Majesty
Ain’t another little nigga bad as me
Black Moon attack the industry”

2) Holocaust – Cocoa Brovaz
Performed by the Cocoa Brovaz (formerly Smif N’ Wessun), this track continues the atmospheric effect of the first track, but ratchets the intensity down a notch. The beat is beautiful really, with some piano keys sprinkled in over an operatic score in the background, and a nice bass progression. Each verse is introduced with some scratches, and Tek and Steele show the skills that their debut exhibited, letting opposing crews know that if they step, they better be prepared to be eliminated. Not groundbreaking lyrics-wise, but still good. It’s all in the attitude and style.

“This is only significant to those militant
If you send against Smif N Wessun, time to repent
We was sent by the streets, wit G.O.D.’s consent
To penetrate the info, shut your regulate and represent
When I enter the game, I had a nervous squad
Coach put me on the bench, said I didn’t play hard
Now it’s back to lab, just to get more practice
But door and I relax, a lotta actors turn rappers
Shift the game into fifth gear
Cocoa B’s last, call us Smif N Wessun this year
We don’t talk a lot, yes we still moke a lot, choco-late
Beef up in the club, my dogs’ll leak you in the parkin lot”

3) Ultimate MC -Saukrates feat. Heltah Skeltah
A familiar KRS sample starts this off, and it’s familiar because I’ve heard this before on Saukrates’ “Underground Tapes” LP from a couple of years ago. This is a Saukrates cut featuring Heltah Skeltah rather than the other way around. Rock starts things off with a hot short verse, and Ruck does the same, and then we get Canada’s own Big Sox, as he drops two ill verses. The beat is jumpy, and dare I say, clubbish, and is provided by Big Sox as well. It has some fast paced drums, accentuated by some organs keys. Very nice, but hard to describe really. I liked this cut on the Sox LP, and I like it here too.

“Chemistratin street ruckus wit my nouns and verbs
Hated the real muthafuckas wit a thirst for words
Meditate wit me dude, alone in my own zone
Come and get high, my shit’s homegrown
Bionic, hydroponics, I rap til I’m blue like Sonic
Deliveries, monotonic, but my style’s octophonic
I hate to say, but you weak and your styles prosaic, man
If rhymin was fightin, I be Tyson”

4) Real Nigga Shit – OGC with Doc Holliday
We get back to straight Duck Down artists with this track, and again, we’re blessed with another dark beat, with muddy bass, and a great melody running in the background. Like I said, a heavy muddy bassline, and some Middle Eastern sounding flutes in the background, with another flute running behind that as well. Nice. Lyrics again are pretty basic thug ish, but you can front on the skills of my man Starang.

“Them niggas weak, ain’t got no heat, and on they block can’t eat
I’m strictly street, these wack niggas sware they be spittin
But I stay kickin better shit, on Christopher and Pickens
Smokin and bullshittin, but it’s different nowadays
A nigga stay in the studio, makin power plays
Word up, I turn on my television, you ain’t even knowin that
Aiyo, this nigga flowin now, aiyo that’s how it’s goin down
Magnum Force ready for any showdown, word up
Still reppin from ninety now past two thou”

5) Meditation – The Representativz
The forgotten members of the BCC, The Repz drop a decent track here, if a little generic. The beat is much more upbeat than before, with a fairly simple bassline, a syncopated drum beat, and a bell sounding off on the 4th note of the bassline throughout the song. Lidu Rock is alright, but Supreme shines on this track, with his nasal rapid fire flow.

“Aiyo, son, good lookin, big up my crooks in Brooklyn
Them grimy ass niggas that’ll have your block shookin
Why you lookin? If you’se a problem, I’m a problem solver
Bust off my gun, shine like the son, come like the father
So don’t bother, I keep my gun tucked in my parka
Why you wanna start pa? Come on, you know how all my sharks are
I rip apart y’all, fish niggas we fire guard
I retire squads, when I fire hard wit my dialogue”

6) Eye of the Scorpio – Buckshot and Rock
Woah. This track hits hard, and does so everytime I hear it. Judging from the little monologue at the beggining by Rock, this track was recorded right after “Enta Da Stage”, and just when he had gotten out of jail. Pleasant. The only adjective I can use to describe this beat is sinister. A very slow bassline and drums, with this menacing guitar chord strummed in the background repeatedly. It’s awesome how this manages to sound so hard even though it’s so simple.Buckshot doesn’t disappoint, but it’s Rock who steals the show with both his verses here. Incredible.

“You seen my Boot Camp, now peep my Magnum Force, muthafuckas
Dirtiest Players in the Game, ask your mother
I fucked her, dug her for a buck, and loved the booty
And she told me, exactly where to find you G
Plus your girls Sleepin in my Bed like Dru Hill
You know she messin wit my head too, what you feel?
We don’t give a wiggy, what about your feelings and morals
Don’t like it, you can get a dick up in your oral
So stop flauntin, you three wannabes want beef, why?
Cuz the three chicks you punks want, want me
Wit my bummy ass, you need to be ashamed
That’s cuz I’m straight up, and y’all run to much game”

7) BQE – MS and Hairy Balls
Another more upbeat track here, with newcomer Hairy, and well known BCC affiliate MS on the track. This is basically a throw up to their borough in NY, and has all the bragging you’d expect. The beat is pretty interesting, with a running chime, in addition to an upbeat progressive bassline, and some fast paced drums. Nothing special, but not bad, meaning I don’t normally skip this. MS does a good job, but Hairy is forgettable.

8) Live The Life – Ruste Juxx with Ruck
Misleading in that Ruck really does little else other than intro Ruste. He DOES try to rip a verse at the end, but comically gives up halfway through his 3rd line. Ruste DOES drop a verse though, that clocks in at around 3 minutes non-stop. And I’m like woah, because this is blazing, and it’s in full freestyle mode from the way it sounds. Incredible. The beat also works on this, with violins jutting in and out, and a very cool guitar sound every minute or so. Again, I say incredible. Coincidentally, this was released a month ago as a B-side to Ruste’s debut single for Duck Down, called ‘Fall Back’. Check for that.

“Murder half ya staff with just half a paragraph
Then behold the rage, take a step back, fold the page
Now you so amazed cuz I call shots and throw the J’s
When I die older age, God’ll have my soul appraised
The nastiest, I grafted and mastered this
And just when you thought you heard the last of it, there’s one after it
It’s not about drugs and murder or things of that nature
Y’all self claimed legends, mob impersonator
Nigga this, nigga that, I figure that’s your limit
Smoke weed, bust a gat, heart and soul all in it
You stole an image, my brainstorm rain til finish
After thin hits, nastiness name still diminish
When the days blew dawn, as the phase moves on
The eighty five wit skid rose, CD on, illusion
He equals MC squared, and I is he
G Cypher Divine, born free, V.I.C.”

9) Sleepers – Illa Noyz with Rock
Rock only does the chorus for this one, so this is basically an Illa solo track. I’m biased here, because I’ve always like Illa best out of all the BCC affiliates, and he doesn’t disappoint here either. He has a very distinct flow and sound. He reminds me a lot of Louisville of OGC, but without the super high pitched voice. Rock’s chorus is so thundering it threatens to take over the track, but Illa holds it down, and the beat is nice too, with some cartoony violins in addition to some violin chords running for the duration of the song.

“For no apparent reason, I jump up and beat ya
With the sound tryin to live through your receiver out ya speaker
Sit back, relax, you need to take a breather
Kick it wit my body and soap bake it like Adidas
Standard operatin procedure, smoke this reefer
Keep it off the meat racker, coke hinges walls and the meter
No why’s either, like a phone heater, known to heat up
Grade A beef, then chop shit like a meat cleaver”

10) Wanted – Eek-a-Mouse with Steele
Now things get REALLY crazy. A reggae beat of all things here, with Eek-a-Mouse providing his ragga flow. It’s laid back, and perfect for just vibing and chilling to. Steele drops a patois sounding style here talking about how he’s wanted by the law, and when Eek jumps in for the chorus you get a nice horn sample too. This is really different from everything else here, but it’s still very good.

11) Raiders of the Lost Arc – Jahdan
And the reggae theme continues, this time in a more traditional sense, with no raps. This has an almost festival-like feel to it, with some HARD drums, an infectious bassline, and some gorgeous chimes and bells. Jahdan, who I’ve never heard of, has a thundering voice, and sounds great. The subject matter also veers a little into the conscious side of things, with Jah addressing inner city youth. To be honest, I couldn’t understand much of this due to the heavy accents, but it still sounds perfect.

12) Worldwind(remix) – Black Moon
Ahh…so nice and soothing. A remix of their hit track from their sophomore release, ‘Worldwind’ was always a fave of mine. This stays pretty close to the original, with the swirling effects, the Middle-Eastern sounding flutes and guitar, and the nice dirty drums. Buck does his thing nicely, again doing the braggadacio ish, and you get a couple of new verses here as well. A nice remix, although not groundbreaking in any way.

“Buck flow with the speed of a bobsled
Bust lead to the head, plus I stay red
Every time I think about the dead
I think about what Makaveli said, lick a shot, for the ones who’ve bled
In this MC sh*t, we agree shit got outta hand
But they ain’t stop the plan, uneffective
No respect for this, but my perspective is
Niggas who walk the path of the straight and narrow
We could rule the land like Pharaohs
Plus enjoy the bone to the marrow, delicious”

13) Playin 4 Keeps – The B.T.J.’s
Another of the satellite groups, but one that’s never really impressed me. The problem is that they sound too generic. Nothing stands out, at least lyrically, and this is also what makes this song pretty boring. The beat keeps up its end of the bargain, with fast paced bass and drums, a nice synth sample, and a nice piano loop, but the lyrics just can’t keep up. It’s not the content, but the style which is their downfall. A skipper.

14) Duck Down – Heltah Skeltah, Cocoa Brovaz, Smackman, Lord Digga
I love this track, and it always perks me up after the previous one. The beat is hard to describe. It uses the same type of operatic atmosphere found in ‘Holocaust’ earlier on the LP, but sped up. The drums and bass are standard 4/4, and there really isn’t much else. This is a showcase for the MC’s. Rock starts things off, and doesn’t disappoint, and then a guy I’ve never heard before, Lord Digga, drops a pretty mediocre verse. Ruck saves the day next though, with his trademarked “S-E-A-N-P-R-I-C-E” entrance into the song. Smackman sucks, and the Cocoa B’s hold up their end of the song well. I don’t know if Smack and Digga are Duck Down, but they drag this song down when they’re on, making it great rather than the classic it should be.

“Yo son hit me, this shit’s three times fatter than my sis be
Fatter than the last spliff I smoked with the dread-nitty
It be, Alvin Catraz, don’t forget me
Remember this? It went down like this see
Long story short, I’m in this joint livin shifty
In the cloud of smoke, in the club where ya bitch be
She leavin wit me, the no G rap work lovely
She with three other dimes and they all wanna fuck me
Yeah they want me, why, cuz I’m so macho
Some cats wanna buck me, but they ain’t go no
Wins with the bummy jab, call me Rocko
Stop foes, makin shit hot like Sounds of Dew Nacho
Not cho average guy, I never fit in
Ran with Deceps, startin trouble for a livin’
Like Tyson’s ex-chick, we stay Robin and Givin
Aches and pains, parle, y’all end up missin”

15) You Can’t Fuck Wit Us – Buckshot,Steele, Swan
Swan has a very small part in this, as this is more of a Buck/Steele collabo. The beat sounds very west coast to me, with a bouncy bassline, and some high pitched flutes in the background. Buck and Steele address the haters, and also mention how the hip hop community has abandoned them because of one album. A nice track, and good for a nice stereo, but nothing more than that.

“What’s that shit, it’s some shit called jealousy
I think it’s airborne, so I cover up my mouth and eyes
When I get around mad niggas, up in the club, downin mad liquor
As they drink, I proceed to think
Who’s the first one to make the comment
That, Buck ain’t shit, behind my back
The God ST predicted this shit, I’m sick of this shit
It’s t0o many niggas on my licorice dick
Sweating BDI for a flick, but you can’t fuck wit this, nigga”

So my final word? This album is good, even great, BUT, the damage had been done like I said above, and it didn’t sell well.

In addition, it feels sloppily put together. There’s no real timeline to the tracks, and it just seems like Duck Down had a bunch of good tracks, and felt like putting out an LP to make some extra cash with minimal effort. While the music IS good, you can’t hide this lack of effort. It didn’t help that they marketed this like amateurs too. Almost no print ads, and the ones they did really didn’t explain what this album was. Some heads thought it was a greatest hits compilation, some thought it was all B-team BCC members, and some thought it was an actual sophomore BCC release. It was none of the above, but it was better than the debut, and it did reestablish the BCC for a lot of heads, just not enough.

A high recommendation to BCC fans, and just a normal recommendation to those who maybe have a little less experience of Duck Down artists.

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