I decided it was time to take a hiatus from Justus League projects and go in a different direction. Thus, the review for Da Storm was born.
For those of you who may be unfamiliar with Originoo Gunn Clappaz, they are a group that branched off from Boot Camp Clik, much like Black Moon, Heltah Skeltah, and Smif-N-Wessun. The group consists of Starang Wondah, Louieville Sluggah, and Top Dog and is known for its dark, grimy production from Da Beatminerz and its almost hybrid rap/reggae style.
O.G.C. was the last of the Boot Camp groups to release an album, following Enta Da Stage by Black Moon (released in 1993), Dah Shinin' by Smif-N-Wessun (released in 1995) and Nocturnal by Heltah Skeltah, released only a few months before Da Storm.
It is generally viewed as the weakest of the four efforts, but that is largely due to the fact that all three of the albums that preceded it are widely regarded as classics. Some even consider Da Storm to be classic material, as well (I know I do).
The album is relatively short, as it possesses only 11 full-length songs (there are a bunch of skits and interludes), so let's get to that review.
1. Calm Before Da Storm
The album starts off with an extremely mellow beat done by...well, this is strange. The beat is done by Shaleek, who, unless I missed something, is not one of the three member of Da Beatminerz. Nevertheless, the production is sick, and Top Dog drops the first verse on the record: "'Cause it's dangerous, in these fills that we walk, it's a rap race in this wicked city we call New York, you all talk, and ain't nothin' workin' upstairs, so stop acting like you know what I be saying when you scared." The entire album is littered with those types of raps, and I for one enjoy it. Great way to open up Da Storm.
2. No Fear
That brings us to the album's lead single and most popular song, which also happens to be the track whose video dissed The Notorious B.I.G. which resulted in Starang Wondah being pistol-whipped. Let's focus on the cut itself, though, because "No Fear" is ill. Mr. Walt of Da Beatminerz lays out a banger here, throwing on some ridiculously dusty drums over an eerie sample, and all three members put down great verses. This is the best record on Da Storm and one of the best records Boot Camp Clik has ever put out.
3. Gunn Clapp
Mr. Walt does his thing again here, dropping a laid-back but dark beat for O.G.C. Louieville Sluggah is especially on point, rapping: "Two shots to a brain, punk tryna maintain in pain, but it's insane how you was raised in this game, streets is hectic, you should have been on ya best bitch, I don't feel sorry that we had to wet shit." The only thing that stinks about this track? It's listed as being four minutes and fifty-one seconds long, but the rapping stops at the 2:03 mark and it's all adlibs thereafter. Almost three minutes of adlibs? Seriously?
4. Hurricane Starang
Starang Wondah, the group's frontman, gets a solo joint here (with a few one-liners by Rock of Heltah Skeltah sprinkled throughout), getting a chance to rip one of the best beats on Da Storm (again produced by Mr. Walt): "It's a shame Strang got more aim than an archer, M.P. Rock please prepare my shit for departure." You may have figured out by now that the Originoo Gunn Clappaz aren't exactly the greatest lyricists around, but it's the tenacity with which they rap their lines that makes them so damn good.
Let me start off by saying that there is no such thing as a bad Boot Camp Clik song, but compared to the other tracks on this album, "Danjer" is just a *bit* boring. It's still solid, but it's not up to par with the rest of Da Storm.
6. Da Storm
Now this, I friggin love. DJ Evil Dee, another member of Da Beatminerz, makes his first appearance on the album here, laying down a superb beat for O.G.C., and Louieville Sluggah rips it: "Put pine to your spine, now you niggas hate me, for reasons, we bring freezers to heated regions, troopin' through your crew like the PM night demon." While most people prefer Starang Wondah, Louieville is my favorite O.G.C. member.
7. Wild Cowboys In Bucktown
This beat actually wasn't produced by Da Beatminerz, but by DJ O. Gee. Oddly enough, this may actually be the hottest production on Da Storm. The kick drums in particular are sick. Sadat X drops a couple of guest verses, and Sean Black drops one, too (did I know who Sean Black was before listening to this song? No.). To be honest, no one rips off any memorable lines here, but the production carries this and makes it a phenomenal track.
8. God Don't Like Ugly
Buckshot and Lord Jamar produced this banger of a beat and, once again, Louieville Sluggah is the most impressive on the track: "I give it to the boy, word bond, he got balls, there's too many bottles on these walls first of all, fools die coarsely, scheming rap sheets for thoughts, lying harshly defeated seeking things he didn't earn." Even without Da Beatminerz on the boards for these last two tracks, the production doesn't skip a beat (no pun intended; seriously), as "God Don't Like Ugly," much like "Wild Cowboys In Bucktown," has one of the illest beats on Da Storm.
Da Beatminerz are back for this track, with DJ Evil Dee handling the jazzy production. The hats and snares seem even more dusty than usual here (and that's a good thing), and all three O.G.C. members sound very at home over the beat. Man; it's gonna be hard to pick the top five tracks for this album.
10. Elite Fleet
The snare in this cut is so hard-hitting that it's crazy. There are a few guest appearances on this five-and-a-half-minute record, those being Lidu Rock and Supreme (The Representativz), M.S., and Bad Vybes. I'm sure by now, you know the types of rhymes that the Originoo Gunn Clappaz spit, and "Elite Fleet" is no different than the rest of Da Storm, so I won't even bother writing some of their more notable lines.
This was the first production credit Madlib ever had, and he produced a sick track here (with E-Swift). The chime-like sound throughout "Flappin'" really increases the grittiness of it, as do the verses of all three O.G.C. members. I particularly like this line from Starang: "You know me, chillin' with number 2 and the O.G., hoes be on me like that glow on Obe Wan Kenobi." Da Storm goes out with a bang.
In my opinion, Da Storm is a classic. The production done by Da Beatminerz is scintillating, as are the four tracks that were made by other producers. All 11 tracks follow a similar formula, and while you might think that would grow tiresome on a full-length album, it doesn't. There is a reason why Da Beatminerz have such longevity in the game; their style works.
If you are expecting mind-blowing lyricism out of Starang Wondah, Louieville Sluggah, and Top Dog, then you've come to the wrong place. None of these guys are going to be challenging Canibus or Ras Kass as far as hip-hop's best lyricists go, but, as I stated earlier, it's the style with which they rap that makes them so enjoyable to listen to. I mean, they had the balls to openly diss Biggie, so that earns them mad respect in my book.
I can already tell you the main beef that people will have with Da Storm: it's too repetitive. While I will admit that some of the beats sound familiar, to me, that means that the album followed a specific structure, something that is missing from a substantial amount of rap albums today. These days, artists seem to have their ish all over the place, and that's not very conducive to success.
Anyway, go out and cop this now. It is a must-have for any true hip-hop fan.
TOP FIVE TRACKS
1. No Fear
2. Wild Cowboys In Bucktown
3. God Don't Like Ugly
What are you crazy?