June 19, 2007

Westside Connection - Bow Down (October 22, 1996)

I bet nobody saw this one coming. I figure, since it's clear that I have an East Coast bias, what better way to include the West on my blog than by featuring an album that was created solely to dis the shit out of the East Coast?

Westside Connection is a collective made up of boring-ass rapper Mack 10, the mighty W.C. (of Maad Circle fame), and some guy who uses "Ice Cube" as his rap moniker. These three artists were already successful with their solo careers (in the case of W.C., I mean "success" as "people in Cali liked him but he sold zero copies"), but were nonplussed with everyone's obsession with the hip hop output of the East Coast at the time. To add insult to injury, there was that whole coastal rivalry thing, which resulted in the pointless deaths of Tupac Shakur and, later in 1997, Christopher "The Notorious B.I.G." Wallace. Cube and company (this fall, on PBS) were simply not happy with the way the West Coast artists were being slighted, especially since the East was getting all of the good press.

(I imagine that's how both the East and the West now feel about the South...)

Anyway, Bow Down was a diss-filled album that took aim at anyone and everyone who was seen as a supporter of the East during the time. Chicago stalwart Common seems to get it the worst, since he had the gall to retaliate when Mack 10 released "Westside Slaughterhouse" (from his first solo album Foe Life) and O'shea Jackson (no relation to Curtis) made fun of his song "I Used To Love H.E.R." (which is now widely accepted as one of the best hip hop songs ever made). Don't feel too bad for Common, though; with his only diss track, he won the war (listen to "The Bitch In Yoo" if you don't believe me.)

Bow Down eventually sold over one million copies, and is now considered one of the finest West Coast offerings ever released. The Source even gave it four-and-a-half mics (out of five), labeling it as a "near classic", which is fucking hysterical and ironic since The Source is actually one of the targets on the album.

Go figure.

1. WORLD DOMINATION (INTRO)
Usual rap album intro bullshit, but seeing as this is a concept album about how when you hate on other people, you're really hating on yourself, I'll let this one slide.

2. BOW DOWN
No four-bar break here. Cube tears into you immediately, like a rabid squirrel running late, over a hard-ass beat. By the way, the whole "hard-ass beat" thing? Consistent throughout the entire album. Amazing, I know.

3. GANGSTAS MAKER THE WORLD GO ROUND
The second single (the first being "Bow Down"). It's a complete departure from the last song, but still sounds good. I don't even mind Mack 10 on here as much.

4. ALL THE CRITICS IN NEW YORK
The aforementioned song where The Source turns into one giant pussy just waiting to get fucked. And then, as if to prove Cube and company right, they buy into the hype and give up the high rating. No wonder there were credibility issues with "the hip-hop Bible", and this was before all of that Benzino shit...

5. DO YOU LIKE CRIMINALS?
Yeah, a song for the chicks (or, as they are referred to here, "bitches"). Probably the weakest song on here, but it's still slickly produced and mixed well.

6. GANGSTAS DON'T DANCE (INSERT)
For the uninitiated, "insert" is a fancy way of saying "interlude".

7. THE GANGSTA, THE KILLA, & THE DOPE DEALER
My favorite song on here, and one of the best things Ice Cube has ever been a part of, and I've seen Three Kings. This song samples Nine Inch Nails's "Hurt" (from The Downward Spiral) to great effect, as each of the three artists takes on one of the titular personas. What do you mean, you figured that out when you read the title? The song is still fucking awesome.

8. CROSS 'EM OUT AND PUT A 'K'
Q-Tip from A Tribe Called Quest gets called out on this song. Did you know that Q-Tip was actually one of the reasons the whole coastal rivalry started? Seriously. On "Keep It Moving", off of the Beats, Rhymes, & Life album, he even mentions it, claiming that someone misinterpreted his words. Very interesting...

9. KING OF THE HILL
Taking a quick break from attacking the East, the Connection set their sights down the street. This is a harsh Cypress Hill diss that includes my favorite new-school Ice Cube lines ever: "I have a voice you should fear/I drink a beer, bust a rap and end your fucking career!". Great song, even if W.C. doesn't appear at all. (I'm sure he was somewhere in the studio, possibly getting some Doritos from the vending machine.)

10. 3 TIME FELONS
Doesn't completely suck, but the momentum is fading...

11. WESTWARD HO
Fading...

12. THE PLEDGE (INSERT)
...

13. HOO-BANGIN' (W.S.C.G. STYLE) (FEAT K-DEE, ALLFRUMTHAI, & THE COMRADES)
The beat is bangin' (no pun intended), but I liked it the first time I heard it: the original Mack 10-only version was part of a double-A-sided single put out by Priority Records to promote The Substitute soundtrack (the other song included was Ras Kass's "Miami Life"). This remix is alright, and probably the best way to announce that the album is over.


FINAL THOUGHTS: Bow Down is actually pretty fucking good. The lyrics are on point (for the most part, the three artists stick with the theme, and somehow it never gets old), the production is hard, and overall, it's very entertaining. I realize that I'm coming off just like another one of those critics that never said anything good about the West Coast until I heard Bow Down. To those that doubt me, I urge you to check my earlier blogs; I reviewed Tha Alkaholiks, Ras Kass, The Automator,and Jurassic 5, too (and, oh yeah, The Documentary...).

BUY OR BURN? Beware the wrath of an Ice Cube scorned! Buy this shit, or he will call both you and your mother out by name on his next album! (Taken from his Myspace page.)

BEST TRACKS: "The Gangsta, The Killa, & The Dope Dealer"; "King Of The Hill"; "Bow Down"

(Disagree with the above review? Leave a comment below! Don't be shy!)

-Max

15 comments:

  1. The Doctor Of StyleJune 20, 2007

    Strong album and a pretty fair review for the west coast.

    You should do some Pac - no intros (except for Me Against The World)!

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  2. Because of this review I will now try to listen to it again, but I'm not going in with an open mind and I wopuld love to shove Mac 10's namesake up his bum.

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  3. It's funny...I STILL hold a grudge towards this album and now, 11 full years after it's release I still haven't heard it or even tried to procure a copy of it. One.

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  4. SO FUCKING GOOD ALBUM !! One of the best old west-coast hip hop cds. Ice Cube just rocks and the three songs - Bow Down, Gangstas Make The World Go Round and The Gangsta, The Killa & The Dope Dealer - are just masterpieces !! WESTSIIIIIIDE MOTHERFUCKERS !

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  5. response to What It Is : lol the album review is just an opinion by the reviewer,if u wana listen to any album,dont listen to any body,just try it out for your self

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  6. dang q-tip started that shit???holy shit and the thing was that q didn't believe in that beef shit in the rap game but ppl everytime are always misinterpretating one another

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  7. Hardly Ice Cube at his best but there's some fairly enjoyable songs on it, King of the Hill was a great diss song, not really on par with No Vaseline though.

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  8. its really hard for me to enjoy this album but ill give this like 4 listens, because i really am not into mack 10 and wc

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  9. Great gangsta "west-coast" album but not a classic in the sense that it helped the coastal war. Although, i bet if Pac stuck around a couple more months... i wouldn't have been suprised if this shit went to the streets and ended up in a massacre. Not saying Tupac & Biggies death wasn't even horrifying the least but u know what im sayin. Although the beats are hella high-powered and the music speaks for the violence itself which can be degrading to hip-hop but nonetheless a good enough concept that flows through well. I know it's just music but dang, that shit could have gotten worse! Good review!

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  10. LOL "I'm having illuuusions" ...... "west-side niggaz whoopin' on yo motherfuckin ass, that's what u having illusions of... BITCH" That was funny.. bring a lunch motherfucka!

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  11. I LOVE this album.
    Some records are meant to just let rip over; this is one of them. Angry Cube was the shit, and WC shines on this. These three just didn't give a fuck.
    I remember replaying 'King Of The Hill' over and over again; can't think of a diss track that has made me laugh as much as that one. Good that the beef was long over though.
    'The Gangsta, The Killa and The Dope Dealer' is definitely the centerpiece. I actually bought the album just for that song alone in the first place.

    "... and B-Real sounding LIKE HE GOT BABY NUTS ..." ... hahaha, gets me everytime.

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  12. AnonymousJune 08, 2010

    "I'm havin illusions"... of westside niggas whoopin on yo motherfuckin ass that's what you havin illusions of BITCH

    Cypress Hill got murdered on King of the Hill

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  13. One of the most hilarious albums I have ever heard.

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  14. Bow Down will forever be a classic record and one of the last great moments of Cubes career till he decided to go hollywood.

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    1. He went Hollywood long before this album was a gleam in his eye, but other than that, I agree with you.

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