Artist: Max Supreme
Album: Street Gumbo
Rating: 6.5 / 10
Reviewer: A to the L
Omaha, Nebraska is not the first place you might bring to mind when thinking of Hiphop hotbeds, but like most other cities in the US, the music and culture cannot be denied; and J Stephens Music’s first artist Max Supreme is out to make a name for both himself and his city. Going the familiar route of college shows, club and tour warm ups, and jumping on any track available, Supreme alias ‘Hiphop’s Lethal Weapon’ alias Golden Tehk has gained enough experience and exposure to make the step to dropping his first solo album “Street Gumbo”…
Presskit-esque blurbs aside though, how does the whole thing sound?
“Gumbo” kicks off with ‘When I Come Through’, an introduction to Max and his intents on breaking into the industry laid over an irresistable replayed Isaac Hayes sample. Supreme vocally sounds like a mixture of Nas, DMX, and Double XX Posse’s Sugar Ray – and his aggressive, animated delivery rides the ‘Theme From Shaft’ expertly. ‘Make Em Famous’ follows, and also impresses, with Supreme hungrily bouncing off a simple piano roll and a heavy drum pattern, as he advices emcees to take cover or get their positions taken. Other highlights include the battle-themed tirade ‘Built To Last’, the warm ‘TROY’-a-like ‘My Life’, the melancholic ‘Frozen’ which examines the breaking down of a loving relationship, and the eye-opening ‘All I See’ – a gritty, street report from the frontlines which does anything but glorify the hustler’s life. 50 Cent take note…
“I seen drug transactions, drugs for satisfaction,
I see slugs crackin’ niggas up in they back and,
I seen bitches packin’ a little more than gats and,
I seen homies lacking cos they smokin’ crack and,
I seen babies born, blocks get scorned,
I seen niggas in the hood get they ass torn,
I seen my mom get sick, seen my mom get healthy,
But one thing I never seen my mom get is wealthy,
I seen coast to coast, I seen them here then ghost,
I even seen niggas betray they own folks…”
The standout track however is ‘I Know’. Here haunting strings and a short but sweet sped up hook set the scene for Supreme to ferociously attack the track and deliver an impassioned series of verses regarding his fight to come up in the game, what Hiphop means to him, and the struggles he faces to make his living from his art.
“I’m trying to really make it happen,
Even if I don’t really make it rapping,
I still got dream of stacking, tired of every 6 months I’m packing,
Currency every day I’m lacking,
No support or financial backing
Important label contacting to important label contracting,
Every day around the way they wanna know what’s happening
Yo whats up Supreme, nigga, you still rapping?”
“Sometimes I guess its hard to explain,
When everybody’s out here fighting for hunger and pain,
Reaching that boiling point in your brain,
Where you acting insane, just to get some change so you can make a change.”
Its perhaps expected that with these tracks setting the bar so high, that there may be a few other album tracks that can’t clear the hurdle. ‘I Need It All’ and ‘Got Dat Murder’ are instant turn-offs, not just because their straight-up materialistic themes are at odds with the thought-provoking way the struggle for survival is laid out on other tracks, but also because of the dull production. With the entire album being produced by DJ Suicide, its no surprise that “Street Gumbo”, like many independent albums suffers from a few tracks that sound alike and don’t quite have that elusive spark to keep a listener occupied; and it becomes slightly irritating at times to hear the same kicks and strings on different songs – with this in mind, ‘Get Down’, ‘THUGS’, and ‘Nothing But’ are also candidates for the skip button.
Overall though, this is a decent introduction to the world of Max Supreme and definitely one which bodes well for both his future and the future for Omaha Hiphop – a more varied list of producers might well have pushed this to even greater heights though, and this factor will no doubt be examined by Supreme on any sophomore outing.