Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Reviews::CL Smooth - American Me

CL Smooth's first solo album, American Me, is an album I really wanted to like. CL's golden age creds are fairly impeccable, and he always possessed one of the silkiest flows in the biz. So can CL cut it without the legendary production provided by the Pete Rock portion of Pete Rock & CL Smooth? Well, kind of.

Simply put, CL can still rhyme his ass off. Or more specifically, flow his ass off. Still as smooth as ever (yikes, pun intended, I guess), CL hasn't lost anything over the years. Plus it's good to hear an older, experienced MC write about real issues with some passion. Whether he's talking about his place in the world today (American Me), the "war" on terror (Terrorism), the support of his family (Call On Me), or that special lady (It's A Love Thing), CL Smooth still has something relevant to say.

I have no issue with CL's performance of this album, where it comes up a little lacking for me is the production. The album was produced by an unheralded squad of producers, guys like Heatmakerz, Kay Gee (Yeah you know me!), Terence "Tramp-Baby" Abney, Mike Lowe, and Squarta. They do a passable job, but for most part, the tracks are just there. Mostly lukewarm drums with some guitar licks, they are a little too elevator-musicish, blending into the background. I enjoyed the tracks with the more aggressive beats, that found CL at his hungriest, songs like American Me, I Can't Help It, the awesomely named Gorilla Pimpin', and Smoke In The Air.

It's cliche and probably unfair to say "he should've got Pete Rock to produce more songs", but unfortunately, I think it's true. There's a number of tracks here with a chilled out vibe, which CL should excel on (CL Unplugged - As an aside, with the indie-rock/rap dude combos being all the rage right now, I think CL missed an opportunity by not making this an actual unplugged track with one of the 8000 singer-songwriter dudes Ack loves, Warm outside, The Stroll), but they're not really interesting and force CL to carry too much of the load. The exception of course being It's A Love Thing, the lone Pete Rock contribution to the album, which hits the soulful notes that give CL the backdrop he to create a winner.

So in the end, I like this album, just perhaps not as much as I wanted to. But that might be more my problem than CL's. This is a good, mature hip hop album from one of the masters. With most of the mainstream hip hop in 2006 being pretty much sound-alike nonsense (not Z-Ro though, I'm not hatin!), I don't have a problem recommending an album like this.

Check out CL Smooth and his American Me-ness online:

web site::

For good measure, one of my all time faves:

Posted at 9:37 AM by naedoo :: 1 comments

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At 6:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous did sayeth:

clearly you love pete production, suppouse in this album its not about the beats mostly but the lyrics, what cl has to say after 10years and how he delivers the massage across but mostly he lesson he has to offer to em young mc especialy those that cannot be em selves


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