The Clearance Rack: D-Block – No Security

From new release to the clearance rack in less than a year? Damn. Since I discovered the clearance rack in high school, I had never come across an album that was actually released and demoted to a $1.95 price tag on a throwaway rack in less than a 365 day period. If that wasn’t weird enough, June’s No Security was a somewhat legitimate project. While D-Block isn’t gonna make a run for the top of the billboard charts anytime soon, to their credit they are led by Jadakiss, Styles P, and Sheek Louch. Additionally, while i’m from the left coast and there aren’t a tremendous amount of D-Block fans out here, to my understanding they have a somewhat serious cult following out east. So when I saw the disc actually under the clearance rack, in pile of unsorted CD’s, I had  my doubts. Was it scratched to shit? Was it edited, and thus completely worthless? Are people from the bay that fucking uninterested in East Coast rap? Or was this CD just embarrassingly bad? It didn’t really make sense, and still doesn’t. The CD plays perfectly fine, it is far from edited, and while the quality of music isn’t that memorable, it should be worth more than the price of a swisher or two.

Still, it wasn’t the purchase I was most interested in hearing, because before I played the first track I had a very good idea of how the album would sound. It could be summed up in one word: generic. Now I’ve always been a fan of The LOX. Styles’ extreme anger makes a great combination with Jada’s laid back cockiness, and despite all the hate, I actually have never felt any dislike for Sheek. Yet the world’s desire to defecate all over Sheek’s legacy is the case and point as to why a group like D-Block will never succeed. Even the LOX are too generically hard for fans to enjoy all three members. Now make a group out of a bunch of rappers that are the Mountain Wave to Sheek’s Mountain Dew, and you have a perfect recipe for apathy.

After listening to the album all the way through I have to say that it’s not as mediocre as I thought it would be, but on the other hand, you’ve heard it 500 times without having heard it once. With rumors of a new project from the LOX in the near future (I could have sworn it was supposed to come out in 09’) there are two ways to evaluate No Security. First, people wanna know how the largely proclaimed hardest group in rap sound together at this point in their careers. Then secondly, they will try to see if there is anyone in D-Block (who somehow have barely even earned themselves more than a guest spot or two on a LOX group or solo project) that is worth paying attention to.

Let’s start with The LOX. On the front cover of the album Sheek’s picture is the most central and prominent out of everyone else, and he deserves it. He’s tied with Styles for the most amount of appearances on the disc with 7 out of 12 tracks, and he clearly pushed himself to sound as consistently good as anyone else on this project. As a fan, that’s the upside to the world deciding that Sheek is unfit to share the microphone with his fellow group members. He literally can’t afford to ever come weak, because if he does, the shit storm of hate and disrespect that he receives on a daily basis would turn into a full blown diarrhetic hurricane. Therefore for those of us who are actually willing to listen to the man, you get the benefit of hearing a rapper who continues to stay hungry 12 years into his career. His verse on “Brother’s Keeper” stands out due to a level of insight that I had had not yet discovered in his repertoire. Styles, probably my favorite member of the LOX, also works on 7 songs. His delivery continues to be flawless, and while on some tracks, such as “So Much Trouble” and “Hustler’s Prayer”,  he comes with his classic bullet retardant boasts, he is also a little inconsistent. Since there are absolutely no surprises in terms of his lyrical content, it’s really important that he stays on point in terms of the vividness of his imagery and the creativity in his punch lines. When he doesn’t, his verses seem lacking and kinda lazy, such as his effort on “From The Block”. Finally, Jada only appears on three tracks which is somewhat of a disappointment. On the one hand, I’m happy he gave us a solid album in April, but on the other, if he’s advertised as a prominent figure in the project, I expect him to play the part. Still, he came with it lyrically on all three tracks. “Get That Paper” is the only song on the album that features just the LOX. The beat, made by German producer Crada, and the chorus, sung by S.I., are probably too far on the snuggie end of the spectrum for most fans of the LOX, who are probably be looking for good signs in regards to New L.O.X. Order. While this unfortunately seems to throw Styles off, both Sheek and Jada manage to sound comfortable and confident on the track, without sacrificing the overall character of their content. Sheek definitely delivers a standout verse, but if I had to give it one of em, Jada rocks a cool two word, two syllable rhyme pattern that gives him the edge.

Get That Paper ft. Sheek Louch, Styles P, Jadakiss & S.I. (Produced by Crada)

So Much Trouble ft. Sheek Louch, Styles P, Bucky & Beanie Sigel (Produced by Vinny “King Of Beatz” Idol)

Now to the rest of D-Block. Prior to hearing this album, I don’t think I could have named you a member of D-Block, despite the fact that I recently read online that the group somehow contains close to 50 members. Luckily, this album features only a little over 10 of them, and  for some reason I was expecting that at least half of them would be legitimately really bad (I guess it was that $1.95 price tag). To my surprise, with the exception of Don D and Straw, there are no members of D-Block that I thought stood out as being detrimental to the music. On the other hand, very few of them stood out as being positive additions either. Still, each MC can actually rap and ride a track for the most part, and they each have their shining moments as well. While Bully is overly simple at times, and says his name a little too frequently, his opening verse on “From The Block”,  displaying wordplay mixed with swag, sets a perfect tone for the track, and thus helps make it one of my favorites off the album. Additionally, AP and Snyp Life consistently bring a strong sense of energy and confidence to the tracks that they are featured on, but if I had to choose one member of D-Block that I would want to hear a solo project from, it’d be Bucky. He has more personality than the rest of the group combined, he has a unique style that does not compromise his ability to ride the beat, and his word play is strong as well.  His opening verse on “That’s D-Block” eclipses all of his group mates on the track, including Styles surprisingly enough. It’s just a shame that the song is seriously tarnished by the type of played out, generically hard beat that initially worried me about my ability to enjoy the album.

From The Block ft. Sheek Louch, Styles P, Bully, TY & Tommy Star (Produced by Vinny “King Of Beatz” Idol)

In general, that’s the biggest problem with the No Security: the production is at best, just barely above average. “So Much Trouble” and “From The Block”, both of which are produced by in house D-Block beat smith, Vinny “King of Beatz” Idol, are bangers that are worth remembering. Yet despite those two highlights, the rest of the production does very little to stand out. While this isn’t the biggest problem for established and talented MC’s like The LOX, it highlights the weaknesses and overall lack of outstanding qualities in D-Block’s individual members. The result is an album that does very little to separate itself from the hundreds of gangster rap projects that come out each year. It’s not a whole lot worse than a slew of albums, but by no means is it a whole let better than bunch either. Instead, it sits right in the middle, not disappointing or exciting. Which in reality is more than I expected, but at the end of the day, not enough to get me to give it more than a couple of spins.

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