WC - Guilty by Affiliation

Posted August 15, 2007
Tags: WC,

Beverly Hills trophy wives lustily eye their pool boys. An elderly man from El Salvador sells...

Guilty by Affiliation Album Review

Beverly Hills trophy wives lustily eye their pool boys. An elderly man from El Salvador sells homemade pupusas on a littered street corner. Lindsay Lohan drunkenly careens through Santa Monica. A mother works her third job to feed her children. More than any other city in the country Los Angeles defies easy description. It is a place that houses both Hollywood’s riches and Skid Row’s abject poverty. To borrow a famous line; L.A. is a city of ten million stories. This is one.

From out of the City of Angel’s hazy smog comes WC (pronounced Dub C), west coast rap heavyweight and Ice Cube’s running mate, who has put the independent strength of his Lench Mob Records behind WC’s new album Guilty By Affiliation. The album is in many ways a return to the west coast gangsta rap that originally prompted widespread parental panic and political posturing. Chuck D once said, “rap is CNN for black people,” it has the power to tell the stories of people ignored by mainstream media, and WC trains his lyrical camera on his native South Central. Oh, and the production’s on point.

This Is Los Angeles is sure to become a west coast staple. On the song a stuttering piano line punctuates a deeply funky bass line, setting the stage for WC’s basement deep voice to assault the track. Although vocally intimidating he doesn’t rely on sheer power to carry a verse, he has some lyrical weight too, calling out the infamously racist L.A.P.D. and addressing the city’s black and Latino homicide crisis. And before anyone even thinks about it, that “west coast vs. east coast vs. dirty south” beef is played out, it was buried along with Biggie and Tupac.

The punishing bass of West Coast Voodoo immediately follows, featuring The Game’s gritty and egotistical flow. Make no mistake WC is a deeply skilled MC and he proves it on Voodoo, seamlessly transitioning between rock solid rhymes and punchlines sung with a vibrating style (the man is harder than Michael Jackson at a day care). Come on, that’s funny. WC keeps the SoCal love rollin' on the laid back Dodgeball, featuring Butch Cassidy on a chorus that can only be described as Nate Dogg-esque. The beat’s a hypnotizing lullaby but WC speeds up the flow to keep your attention before Snoop Dogg shows up to drop some blunted rhymes. Does Snoop even have to smoke anymore, shouldn’t he just be permanently high by now? WC has some seriously strong guest features on the album but he never gets out done on his own track, something Diddy might want to look into.

One of Guilty By Affiliation’s strengths is its ability to pay homage to hip-hop’s increasingly forgotten history while keeping focused firmly on the present. Look At Me is a full-fledged club record produced by Rick Rock, the main man behind the hyphy movement’s frenetic sound. Even in his most serious moments WC is only seconds away from a joke and Look At Me lets his sizable party side come out. On the throwback tip is Crazy Toones 4 President, a nod to the turntable masterpiece Erik B Is President, that simply lets DJ Crazy Toones do his thing. In an age when DJs have often become nothing more than laptop button pushers it’s good to hear someone still knows hip-hop’s fundamentals.

I would never deny WC his fair share, but Guilty By Affiliation’s weak spot is when it focuses on…let’s call them carnal pleasures. Side Dick is an amusing but ultimately forgettable track and 80's Babies is built entirely around a one-line joke; despite WC’s claim I’m one baby born during the 80s that he’s not the father of (feel free to compare our pictures). They’re both decent songs that serve primarily as comic relief in an otherwise dramatic album. Thankfully the album ends with Gang Injunctions, a gangsta rap manifesto with a beat that has shades of Dr. Dre. This is WC at his best, paying tribute to executed Crip leader turned activist Tookie Williams and threatening snitches. Remember when hip-hop was dangerous? It still can be, and if it continues to edge closer to whitewashed commercialism than we’re all guilty by affiliation.

DJBooth Rating - 4 Spins

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Posted August 15, 2007
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