The Federation - It’s Whateva

Posted October 4, 2007

If I said DJBooth’s traffic is busier than the 405 at rush hour, only my L.A. people would...

It's Whateva Album Review

If I said DJBooth’s traffic is busier than the 405 at rush hour, only my L.A. people would understand. And it’d take a Boston head to truly appreciate a sentence like “T-Pain’s been hitting more often than Dustin Pedroia.” Hip-hop’s all about reping your block, but what happens when your block starts getting national attention? That’s exactly the dilemma facing the Bay Area’s hyphy movement, a culture so unique it requires its own dictionary. Should the Bay cut down on the thizzle references and find mainstream success, or stay dumb and remain a local phenomenon?

The Federation have answered that question with the release of their second album It’s Whateva, a movie length work with mass appeal that still holds true to their roots. For production work The Federation rely solely on Rick Rock, the man primarily responsible for the hyphy sound, and the album is as much a testament to Rock’s crushingly intricate production talent as it is The Federation’s kinetic rhyme style. If the Bay was waiting for one album they could proudly play anywhere in the country, It’s Whateva, but will kids outside of California really want to get 18 dummy?

The aforementioned 18 Dummy (a.k.a. getting drunk on 1800 tequila) has been a hyphy classic since its first skittering notes hits the airwaves. The Federation’s MCs Doonie Baby, Goldie and Stresmatic never take themselves too seriously and the track’s lyrics flip between violent threats and Red Lobster references. Still, 18 Dummy could leave the rest of the country scratching their heads. You don’t have to understand a line like “go stupid on the AC Transit” but it helps. Get Naked You Beezy is enough of a banger to receive play in clubs nationwide. Everyone wants songs about naked women, especially when the chorus is a sung by a little kid, but you’re just not going to get the full effect unless you know about grapes/scrapers/the Fairfield mall. I’m sure there are some dope Cuban rappers out there but not everybody speaks Spanish. At times The Federation may as well be speaking another language.

It’s Whateva isn’t all Bay all day, there’s plenty of tracks for everyone. What’s the great thing about college girls? You get older but they stay the same age. Apparently The Federation has heard that joke too and they’ve penned an ode to coeds appropriately titled College Girls. The track has an almost 90’s vibe, it sounds like Tone Loc was an inspiration, and club goers everywhere will go off when their school gets mentioned. Parents paying tuition will recoil in horror but College Girls is just flat-out good times. Happy I Met You is The Federations most radio friendly track, well ever, as long as the lyrics undergo some serious editing. Rick Rock’s put together some surprisingly smooth production that showcases his versatility and the immortal Snoop Dogg puts in a perfect guest verse. Besides, “you hate the police/I hate the police/we got something in common/ain’t that sweet” is my new favorite pick-up line. Ladies will love Happy I Met You, but It’s Whateva gives gangsters worldwide a new anthem with We On Yo Line. The beat punctuates an impossibly deep bass line with death toll bells as The Federation rhymes about using kids as shooters, with guest feature Cashis echoing the sentiment. If Oprah heard We On Yo Line she’d have a heart attack. No matter where you’re from It’s Whateva has the good times and adrenaline bursts you’re looking for.

Coming in at a staggering 21 tracks It’s Whateva provides plenty of space for The Federation to experiment, with mixed results. Every MC and their mother has been using hard rock styles lately but The Federation actually went and recruited real rock musician Travis Barker for the crushing Black Roses. This track is what everyone has been trying (and failing) to do. On the polar opposite side is Fly Away, an orchestral track that’s long on good intentions and short on originality. When I Was Yo Man is a brilliant soul song that’s so unlike the rest of the album it’s shocking. Part hyphy classic, part club hit, part hip-hop experimentalism; it’s nearly impossible to pin down It’s Whateva. Let me put in this way: if you can find Vallejo on a map go get it. If not then proceed with caution, you might discover a new love or leave confused. Honestly, it could go either way.

DJBooth Rating - 3.5 Spins

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Posted October 4, 2007
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