February 19, 2007

Nas, Foxy Brown, AZ, and Nature Present The Firm: The Album (October 21, 1997)


There aren't many rap albums that have the balls to print a dramatic logline on the disc itself. Even fewer albums are theatrical enough to deserve one. This album sure as fuck doesn't.




The Firm was a rap supergroup that first formed on Nas' "Affirmative Action" (off of his second album It Was Written). The crew consisted of AZ, Foxy Brown, Cormega, and Nas himself. Granted, this was an okay song, but I didn't write home to my mother about it. The four emcees believed they worked well together, though, so they decided to join forces for a full length album. 


So the first brilliant thing that the group did was kick Mega out of the group, I believe because Mega stepped on AZ's gerbil and shifted the blame to Nas' baby's mother. He was quickly replaced with some no-name rapper named Nature, who wouldn't really work all that much after this album (even though, yes, I know he put out a solo album, but I didn't buy it, and you sure as hell didn't, either). Cormega was thrilled, as expected, and floated a track on mixtapes called "Fuck Nas and Nature", which was licensed for use in a television commercial for AARP.


Then, Nas somehow signed a deal to release the album on Dr. Dre's new-at-the-time Aftermath record label, somehow ignoring the fact that all four rappers were signed to other labels entirely. (Seven different label logos appear on the album booklet.) This project was already destined to make absolutely no money. Then it turns out that they couldn't even call themselves "The Firm", because there was a rock group who had trademarked the name. Hence, the long rambling title of this post.


To add insults to more insults, Nas only appears on five of 18 tracks. It seems he wanted to be there for his friends, but his psychic told him that he would still be viable for hip hop in ten years (see the name of this blog), and he wanted to put some distance between the project and his future. None of the participants really talk about this group anymore (except for Cormega), although a few of the members reunited late 2006 at a Nas concert, fueling the fire for another album that nobody will buy.


The Firm: The Album is produced mainly by the Trackmasters, who at this point had mastered the art of stealing an old 1980's song that you were too embarassed to admit you liked, and make it sound even worse. For all the publicity, Dr. Dre only produced three songs (even though the booklet says he did six), only one of which is any good. 


1. INTRO
Nothing to see here.


2. FIRM FIASCO (AZ, NAS, and FOXY BROWN)
You know what would sound young, fresh, and new? Ripping off Goodfellas. Nobody's ever done that before.


3. PHONE TAP INTRO
Please refer to track number one.


4. PHONE TAP (AZ, NAS, NATURE, and DR. DRE)
The best song on the album. (Not a good thing when it comes so early on.) Dre provides a great soundscape for paranoia to run rampant (a running theme for the great mafioso rap songs). Nature's on here for maybe two sentences, which is awesome.


5. EXECUTIVE DECISION (NAS, NATURE, and AZ)
I just heard this song, and I don't remember anything from it worth mentioning.


6. FIRM FAMILY (DR. DRE and NATURE)
I didn't realize that Dre also harbored dreams of being a made man. Who knew?


7. FIRM ALL-STARS (FOXY BROWN and PRETTY BOY)
It's not a good thing when your band's name is in every song title.


8. FUCK SOMEBODY ELSE INTRO
Yay, another skit!


9. FUCK SOMEBODY ELSE (FOXY BROWN)
Well, I certainly hoped a song with this title would follow the previous intro.


10. HARDCORE (FOXY BROWN and NAS)
Somewhere, there's a remix of Jay-Z's "Encore" (a much better song) using the same sample this song uses. "Ain't No N---a" this ain't.


11. UNTOUCHABLE (WIZARD)
Wait a minute: who the fuck is Wizard? Whoever he is, he definitely didn't write his own lyrics; they were provided by Mr. Kelis Rogers himself.


12. FIVE MINUTES TO FLUSH INTRO
...


13. FIVE MINUTES TO FLUSH (NATURE)
Fill in the blank: in the words of Chunk from The Goonies, "I hate ______!"


14. DESPERADOS INTRO
Why bother?


15. DESPERADOS (CANIBUS, AZ, and NATURE)
I'll admit, I was shocked when I first bought this. This was back when Canibus was making a name for himself, and I sweat the "Fuck my record label, I appear courtesy of myself" line. Everything else, meh.


16. FIRM BIZ (NAS, FOXY BROWN, AZ, and DAWN ROBINSON)
I believe this was around the time that Dawn Robinson left En Vogue and signed a deal with Dr. Dre to become...a background studio singer. Samples Teena Marie's "Square Biz", which I'm sure you didn't see coming, since neither the word "Square" or "This song sucks" appear in the title.


17. I'M LEAVING (NOREAGA and NATURE)
Why bother?


18. THROW YOUR GUNS (AZ and HALF-A-MIL)
I'm going to use this space to point out that there are no photos in the album booklet that feature all four main players; only Nas, AZ, and Foxy were ever in the same room at the same time, it seems. Even Nature's pic on the front cover if about half the size of the other three.


FINAL THOUGHTS: This album sucks. I'm not saying that the addition of Cormega would have made this any better, but the album would have sounded at least one level above trash. Thankfully, Dr. Dre's pet tax write off didn't sell many copies.


BUY OR BURN? Can you do neither? Burn "Phone Tap" and forget the rest of this shit.


BEST TRACKS: "Phone Tap", "I Know What Girls Like" (gotcha!)


-Max

17 comments:

  1. your concerned about internet nerds bitching and whining, look at what your doing you fuckin hypocrit...bitching and whining about the album. This album is a classic.

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    1. this album is a classic? LOL

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  2. Obviously you never read my first post, where I declared this site to be where I would bitch and moan about hip hop. And this album is NOT a fucking classic; it sounds like shit, and I should know, since I actually sat and listened to the whole fucking thing while writing the blog. None of it matters anyway, since Nas and company have my money already, as I actually PAID for the CD back in the day. But hey, thanks for commenting! Have a nice day!

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  3. this album is fucking classic

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  4. While I totally agree in your assessment, that this is a meh album, your ripping of Nature is INSANE!!! For all Seasons is an amazing album, and Nature to me is a lyrical beast. About 6 months ago, Big Mike and Nature released a mixtape of all old Nature jams called the Beast Files or something of that nature. Now Max, I know you would not agree, but when I put that CD on I hear banger after banger. Oh yeah, by the way, the beat on "Executive Decision" is phenomanal as well as Firm Fiasco, I'm Leaving and Desperados. I totally respect your opinion, but STOP HATING!!!! I LOVE NATURE...

    One
    Jordan

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  5. AnonymousMay 09, 2008

    yeah, i agree with these people above me..this album isnt as bad as you're making it out to be. Nature is a quality MC its too bad he hasnt released anything recently because I believe he had way more upside than Cormega. You were right about Phone Tap...but "5 min. to flush" shows great story telling ability and "Im Leaving" is far better than "Why Bother". I think you need to work on your reviewing skills.

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  6. This album is a disappointment! I didn't buy it in 97 and I am not going to buy it in 2009. The whole album had a rushed sound. I would have to give this album a D-.

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  7. yeah this album pretty much sucks ass, mainly becaus of foxxy brown in it, everytime she always has to blab her mouth about sexual crap and the production here was gay ass hell, that was probably the worst 10 dollars i spent on

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  8. AnonymousJune 16, 2009

    Executive Decisions' violins are really dope, but overall I agree, sans few good tracks this album sucks big time.

    By the way, there is an original version of Desperados (with Nas an Foxy full verses and proper order of verses). Remember, Canibus says - "my nigga Nature will explain it further if it's not clear" and the next is ... AZ, lol. The original is six minutes long and is fucking dope.

    kormega

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  9. foxxy brown being in the group makes this album suck ass, i expected an album with only AZ and nas, nature and foxxy ruined it

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  10. This album deserves a letter grade of F. The only decent song is "Phone Tap". Every other song sounded cheap and uninspired. The masters for this album should be destroyed immediately.

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  11. i expected an album with Nas and AZ, fuck that prostitute foxxy

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  12. that version with Nas goes hard. we bust guns my mans bring coke thru customs rock garments like muslims speakin in deep wisdoms

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  13. I'm sorry, but can anyone look at this album cover and keep a straight face? From the expressions to the awkward way the heads seem to float around and through one another it's plain hilarious.

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  14. your reviewing skills are horrible and coupled with the bad humor, I had a more enjoyable time listening to teena marie square biz.

    Please inject some intellect in here. I couldn't tell you bought the album because there was no reference point in all that babble. ramblings of a hater with little to no communication skills. sounded like you never heard the album before.

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  15. AnonymousMay 17, 2013

    Dre's lowest point

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  16. Is anyone else reminded of The Score by Fugees album cover when looking at The Firm's album cover?

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