Monday, May 4, 2009

Welcome To Bucktown Review

I walk around town with my pound strapped down to my side- the less than picturesque, but sincere haunting opener that Steele would recite over Da Beatminerz produced instrumental, Bucktown synonymous for Brooklyn, Home of The Original Gun Clappers. It would seem like General Steele has musically come full circle. As one-half of Smif-N-Wessun, his first single was Bucktown, and coincidently Welcome To Bucktown marks the inaugural release on Steele’s newly established label (To no one’s surprise), Bucktown USA Entertainment.
General Steele’s Welcome To Bucktown is partly inspired by the blaxploitation flick Bucktown. It [Bucktown] details a story of police corruption, racism and loyalty and starred blaxploitation staples, Fred Williamson alongside Pam Grier and Thalmus Rasulala. More often than naught, when inspiration is brought up in terms of album making the notion of conceptualization comes into play. That said this is not a traditional concept album in the same vein as say Prince Paul’s A Prince Among Thieves, but it is still a concept album nonetheless. Despite an imperceptible storyline, Steele along with his enlisted comrades (the project features a bevy of rappers) are able to communicate the aforementioned topics through their verses; assumedly the project’s cohorts are relaying present-day conditions and their experiences as they coincide with Bucktown’s own plot. Ultimately painting a picture that is far removed from the gentrified locale that is Brooklyn; rather it is the backblocks and alleys as seen by this collective. Accordingly it is clear that if you are built like Buffie the body-all ass, you better haul ass (unless of course you happen to be a curvaceous female). By intertwining movie sound bites on certain tracks, General Steele is able to recreate the feel of the movie, be as it may be circa 2009. Take for example; the Ayatollah produced Made Me Do It, which features 5ft of Black Moon alongside Steele spitting about the devils in blue. At the commence of the track there’s a short skit that weaves dialogue from Bucktown with Steele’s words to reconstruct a traffic stop before both rappers let off their verbal shots. Similarly, the Bucktown assisted festive A Toast to Brooklyn, opens up with dialogue from Bucktown, in which Fred Williamson’s character celebrates with friends. Production from the album features handiwork from Da Beatminerz, Ayatollah, Sic Beats amongst others; all who supply General Steele and the stable of Brooklyn’s finest with soundscapes that vividly reflect a sense of the highs and lows of this esteemed borough.
All in all Welcome To Bucktown, has nothing to do with the blaxploitation flick, Bucktown in as much it does. Apart from the glaring album’s artwork which is suggestive of the original cover art, General Steele attempts to pay tribute to a blaxploitation classic by paralleling certain themes which conveniently still exist in present day Bucktown. Clearly all the participating artists live and breathe Brooklyn which comes across on this fourteen-track project. If you are fan of Duck Down Entaprizez as I am, then this album should be a welcomed listen, because it still contains the brash and reckless lyricism that Smif-N-Wessun is famous for.

*Side Bar: I couldn’t help but imagine Uncle Murda on Hometown. I don’t even like Murda but think he would fit nicely on the track.


Buckshot, General Steele and Jo Chris- A Toast To Brooklyn
Smif-N-Wessun and Stormey- Bucktown Baby


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