Sheek Louch - Silverback Gorilla

Posted March 21, 2008
Tags: Sheek Louch,

March madness is upon us. Tonight, as I watched USC waste their chance at national stardom, as...

Silverback Gorilla Album Review

March madness is upon us. Tonight, as I watched USC waste their chance at national stardom, as well as some of my hard earned cash, I started thinking about how much college basketball has in common with hip-hop. Both are capable of breathtaking excitement, both attract gold-digging groupies, and both have their traditional powerhouses and underdogs. First, there’s the Dukes of the world; teams for whom anything less than a national championship is a failure (like Jay-Z). Then there’s the Gonzagas; teams that play impressively every year but never make it to the finals (like Joe Budden). And then there’s the George Masons; underdogs that somehow manage to shake up the established order. Hip-hop’s equivalent of George Mason? Allow me to present Sheek Louch.

Sheek Louch is no stranger to being overlooked. As the least famous member of the LOX, Louch was often passed by in favor of his group mates Styles P and Jadakiss (most folks can’t even pronounce his name), but it turns out Sheek’s time outside the spotlight has a bright side. His new album Silverback Gorilla is not only proof that he’s grown as an artist, but it’s a better album than Styles P’s Super Gangster, Extraordinary Gentlemen. Unlike Style’s shifting and ultimately forgettable effort, Silverback has a consistent style that may stray from the beaten path, but never wanders too far from home. Could Sheek surprise the world and cut down the nets? Get ready for a bracket buster.

Every baller needs one shot they can rely on and Sheek’s signature move is New York style hardcore rap. Getting Stonger is yet another reminder of what could have been for the LOX as Styles and Kiss drop by for a hip-hop head-banger that doesn’t pull any punches. Stronger’s no-honds barred flows are exactly what long time fans expect from the boys, but somehow Sheek gets lost in the mix. So to get a true sense of Sheek’s arrival you’ve got to listen to Think We Got A Problem, an absolute banger that unites the country by bringing together NY’s Sheek with L.A.’s The Game and Houston’s Bun B. If you didn’t blow your speakers out on this one, you probably don’t own speakers. Now hold on, let’s take a quick pause for a reality check; Sheek is the worst rapper on Problem. Game simply dominates the track and Sheek just can’t stand up to Bun B’s massive style, but at the very least he proves he belongs on the same court as the big boys.

In order to make it to the finals you have to have some versatility, and Silverback shows Sheek has developed some legitimate mid-range game. Good Love is the obligatory song for the ladies, but unlike other so-called street rappers who call up Lloyd to sing their radio-ready hook, Sheek builds his ladies’ jam around some feel-good soul. It may not be a chart-topper, but at least he didn’t leave his dignity at the door. And then there’s We Comin, a foray into crunk territory featuring Unk that will undoubtedly catch New York heads off-guard – until they hear Sheek absolutely kill it. Would it be sacrilegious to suggest his rhymes sound better over Southern beats? Too bad I can’t say the same for Unk’s verse; just listen to the first minute and 45 seconds and We Comin is a dope track.

Which is why We Spray Crowds is so disappointing. Regular readers of these reviews know I’m far from a tree-hugger, I’ve spent many a review defending hip-hop’s right to self-expression, but We Spray Crowds is a travesty. Have we seriously gotten to the point where lyrics about shooting bystanders are acceptable? Sheek starts the song off with, “I ain’t promoting no violence but…we spray crowds.” What do you mean “but”!? That’s like someone walking up to you and saying, “No offense, but your mom’s a whore.” Like I’m not supposed to be offended you called my mom a whore because you said “no offense but’? Goddamn I wish this song wasn’t on the album.

There, I think I’ve calmed down. Where was I? Oh yeah. Let’s not get carried away, Silverback Gorilla is by no means a classic album, but it could easily pull off a major upset and take out some much more high-profile releases in the “best hip-hop album of the year” tournament. Now there’s a bracket I would pay to be part of – and I got Sheek Louch goin at least as far as the Sweet Sixteen.

DJBooth Rating - 3.5 Spins

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Posted March 21, 2008
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