REVIEW: Knoc-turnal – Knoc’s Landin’

Knoc's Landin'

Artist: Knoc-turnal

Album: Knoc’s Landin’

Label: Elektra

Rating: 6 / 10

Reviewer: DJ MF

(NOTE: With the Knoc album being pushed back, you can bet your life that the line up of tracks detailed below will change slightly. Already there is evidence of different promo versions doing the rounds. It may be a clever ploy to confuse bootleggers, but its also hella confusing for us reviewing types. If YOUR version turns out different from this, take it up with Elektra! A to the L)

Coming at you with quite possibly the most stupidly spelled name in the history of hip hop… actually, make that all of music period, is current west coast flavour of the month and Dre protégé Knoc-Turn’al, and his debut LP, ‘Knoc’s Landing’.

Fresh off his participation in the Dre hit, ‘Bad Intentions’ off of “The Wash” soundtrack, all signs point to Knoc being the next big thing to be spawned by Dr. Dre. Of course, hype is one thing, and skills are another…

The very first thing you’ll notice about Knoc is his incredibly unique flow. Some will undoubtedly call it wack beyond belief. I however am of the notion that anything different in today’s world of saturated, generic hip hop is a good thing. It’s hard to describe, but Knoc has a flow reminiscent of Snoop if he was a geek, and an equally dorky sounding voice. However, he somehow pulls it off. Mind you, it doesn’t always work, but the majority of the time, you won’t be angry at his style.

For some reason, the album starts off with the aforementioned ‘Bad Intentions’, which basically features Knoc in a supporting role, doing the now famous chorus while Dre struggles through his verses. The beat is hot to death of course, with Mahogany using an absolutely incredible flute sample over some very hard hitting drums and bass. A great song, but I question its inclusion on this album, especially since Knoc has about 1 minute total mic time, and that is entirely spitting the chorus.

So consider the next two tracks, ‘LA Night and Day’ and ‘Come All You’ as the true album openers. Unfortunately, the album start can then be declared as inauspicious. ‘Night and Day’ has what sounds to my ears at least, an unmistakably Dre beat, with some classic west coast sounds, but in the end sounds tired and played out, which in the end lets down the musings of Knoc as he looks upon the rap game in LA. ‘Come All You’ however is a lost cause start to finish, with a derivative southern style beat, wack ass chorus, and Knoc’s flow, which clashes with everything here.

Not a good start… especially from someone with the guns he has supporting him.

The album does take a turn for the better after the poor openers however, with the funky instrumental of ‘What They Want’ complimenting Knoc perfectly, and the far more serious and dramatic sounding beat of ‘Knoc’s Landing’ hinting at the wealth of talent that Knoc possesses. Moreso than most MC’s, it seems like Knoc REALLY needs a beat tailor made to his style in order for it to work- and this one fits like a glove.

Following the dreadful Dre rejects ‘Let Shit Go’ and ‘Everywhere’, the album once again shows it’s potential with the deep bass G-funk rumble of ‘Let’s All Roll’, and the current MTV favorite, ‘Knoc’. The former is the epitome of standard west coast gangster shit, but the beat and the flows keep it from sinking into mediocrity, and in fact, raise it to ride-bumpable levels. ‘Knoc’? Well, if you haven’t heard it, get your ass in gear. Sure, it’s aimed right at the 13 year old wannabe thug demographic. Sure, it features Missy. Sure it’s one of those now standard tracks where a new rapper introduces themselves (see Shady, Slim). But the fact remains- Missy and Dre are relegated to minor roles, either as ad libbers or chorus shouters, and this song bumps HARD. Remember how I stated before that I liked the darker feel of ‘What They Want’? Well, consider this track the exact opposite, with a happy, playful feel, and yet it still works beautifully.

Sometimes MTV singles aren’t all that bad.

Amazingly, the album doesn’t let up however. The next three tracks, ‘LA Confidential’, ‘When It All Comes Down To It’, and ‘These Hoes’ are all different, all flowing together nicely, but all dope in separate ways, as clichéd as that sounds. ‘LA Confidential’ goes back to that menacing feel, with a bassline in minor chords, and just might be the next single off this LP in my opinion. ‘When It All Comes Down To It’ will remind you of the synths from ‘Let’s All Roll’, and even includes a half decent Dre verse, although the chorus will make you scream in pain. ‘These Hoes’ continues the slowing of the tempo, and after ‘Knoc’ is probably the best song on the LP. Played out subject matter? Yup. Misogynistic? Yup. Doesn’t matter, it’s still tight. A lazy laid back beat, Knoc spitting a decent chorus, and a change up from the gangster lyrics that have pervaded the album thus far, to a storytelling style rhyme. A refreshing change. Dude should do stuff like this more often. Especially funny are Knoc’s lines about wanting to screw multiple cities in southern California.

Common Sense lovers beware. Another of the album’s highlights follows, with the originally named, ‘I Used 2 Luv Her’. An inventive beat with some great synth guitar accents on the bass drops will make your head bop, and Knoc spits some nice lyrics about a girl he used to love. And no, I’m pretty sure he’s not talking about hip hop. Sounds more like he’s talking about everyone’s OTHER favorite girl- Mary Jane.

Unfortunately, the goodwill built up by the latter third of the album is tempered by the mediocrity of the final two ‘official’ tracks of the LP, ‘Whatcha Gonna Do’ and ‘You Don’t Know Much’, both of which are supremely mediocre in every sense of the word- from beats to rhymes.

The fun doesn’t end there though, and the album does end on a high note, with the bonus track, ‘If I Could’, where Knoc shows a little more gentle side over an R’n’B-ed out beat, professing his need to take away the pain of a loved one. Sure it’s slower and out of character with the rest of the LP :but it suffices as a peaceful closer to an album full of jeep beats.

To me, this album is reminiscent of Royce Da 5’9’s debut. A number of really nice tracks surrounded by mediocrity. Perhaps a little more work in the lab, and less usage of ‘her’ would have enabled Knoc to choose some better beats to fit with his voice, instead of the seemingly random selection of Dre sounding beats that should have stayed on the cutting room floor. I’m sure this album will be a goldmine to those that love straight up west coast style music, but as a whole, this album let me down.

Harsh? Maybe. True? Definitely.

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