RECENT REVIEWS
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CHRIS LOWE - THE BLACK LIFE

JADAKISS - KISS OF DEATH

THE STREETS - A GRAND DON"T COME FOR FREE

BEASTIE BOYS - TO THE 5 BOROUGHS

ZERO7 - WHEN IT FALLS

GHOSTFACE - THE PRETTY TONEY ALBUM

MADVILLAIN - MADVILLAINY

CEE-LO - CEE-LO GREEN...IS THE SOUL MACHINE

KANYE WEST - COLLEGE DROPOUT

LIFESAVAS - SPIRIT IN STONE

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

THEODORE UNIT - 718 

Album: 718
Artist: Theodore Unit
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The Theodore Unit could've used the name Ghostface & Friends or perhaps Ghost & The Jordanaires. Perhaps that's a bit harsh though. Certainly Ghostface is the standout on his crews debut album and there's no way it gets made without him, but unlike some other entourage albums, the other members seem to have some talent. Trife Da God is Ghostface's first lieutenant and will probably have at least a crack at a solo career. Solomon Childs stands out on the tracks he appears on, and the crew's token whitey Shawn Wigs acquits himself pretty well. Veteran Wu-Tang affiliate Streetlife makes an appearance and Cappadonna takes some time out from driving a cab in Baltimore to appear on a couple tracks.

I'm guessing this album was perhaps rushed a little bit to capitalize on the buzz Ghostface's Pretty Toney album generated. I don't think Ghost's solo album had the sales they were hoping for, but there was certainly a lot of anticipation for it. Some of the songs here are mix-tape quality and there are no producers of note behind the beats, but it's not much of an issue. The inclusion of tracks like Guerilla Hood, Smith Brothers, and The Drummer on this album that were expected to be on Pretty Toney certainly generated some interest. I think anyone who does check for this album will be pleasantly surprised. Ghostface is at his raw and rugged best here. There are no tracks for the ladies on this one, strictly the hardcore hip hop like the Wu used to do.

Ghostface handles leadoff duties by himself on Guerilla Hood over some grimy drums and classic horns while referencing Don Mattingly and Don Baylor. This sets the table for what's come on the rest of the album. Ghostface & Trife rhyme over Kane's 'Raw' beat on 88 Freestyle. It sounds like Ghost is struggling with the beat at first but the track eventually works. The Drummer features Method Man and has some slow stuttering drums and a high pitched female sample that reminds me of a couple Killarmy songs I liked. Again, Ghostface kills it on tracks like Wicked With Lead (he uses the phrase 'Coca Cola Rugbies'?!?) and the bouncy posse cut Pass The Mic (No doubt inspired by the Beasties song of the same title). But the other Theodorians do a decent job when they go solo. Solomon Childs has a couple decent solo jams with Mama Can You Hear Me and Be My Girl. Trife does well with Punch In Punch Out and even Shawn Wigs solo shot Daily Routine isn't horrible.

So there you have it. If you like Ghostface at all I'd say you need a copy of this. Even though some of the lyrical content on this album can be a little tired, it's refreshing to hear a full album of nothing but straight ahead NYC hip hop. There are no commercial jams here, probably none of these songs are getting played in the clubs, but who cares, the Wu-Tang needs to go back to the lab and take this approach.

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