Album Review- Black Rob- Game Tested Streets Approved

Black Rob has been through hell and back. He has been signed to Bad Boy, been to jail a couple times, and battled serious illness. Through it all he has persevered and remained one of the few artists who can seemingly make a decent single yet keep it real. with a gravelly voice BR is back an on Duck Down records, an underground NY powerhouse of street mc's with his latest release.

"Welcome Back" and "Boiling Water" are straight forward rap songs from BR with strong production and verses that touch on a variety of topics. The best part is that the joints sound 100% official without a hint of pretensions that so many of today's artists have from the streets to the radio."Bumpin" sounds like a throwback to the recent Bad Boy sound for Black but the hook is sub-par. "Can't make it in NY" is a different type of ode to his home city as Black talks about how he has made it in the rotten apple as well as a description of the populace in general.

Black gets more introspective on "Showin Up" where he talks about how he can talk to the people and relate to them because of what he's been through and his realness. The lead single is "Celebration" which is a great end of summer cookout song in  classic hip-hop mold. "Wanna Get Dough" is more of the general 'teach you how I get down' songs, with a hybrid east coast/southern beat with a mean bass line and simple lyrics. The same can be said for "Get Involved" where Black uses simple bells and drums beat to talk about how he gets down in the clubs across the nation.

BR uses another left over Bad Boy beat on the weak "Sand to the Beach" about leaving his broads at home when he goes out. "Made me a Man" is another 'I'm the real Tough guy' rant. "Fuck em" and "This is what it is" are both generic songs that don't really set themselves apart from anything in the Black Rob catalog. "Up North This is What it is" is like a continuation of the previous song, with the aspect of being locked up added to it. "No Fear" has the only feature on the album with Sean Price but it falls right into line with the rest of the album.

Overall it's nice to hear Black Rob back recording. I always thought he had an excellent rap voice and his flow and style are decent and sound better when contrasted against the background of southern rap these days, however, he lacks variety and the direction that Puffy provided him in the past. Too much of the album is the same topic and rehashing of what he has done with more creativity on his previous Bad Boy releases. The production is top notch for an independent release with decent variety with nothing feeling too out of place.

Rating: 2/5


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