August 15, 2008

For Promotional Use Only: Redman - Ill At Will Mixtape Vol. 2: BC4 (Straight Outta Lo-Cash) (2005)


In 2004, Reggie Noble was allegedly scheduled to drop his album Red Gone Wild on Def Jam Records. However, sensing a shift in momentum, Def Jam shelved the release, claiming that Redman wasn't the best outfit for the day. Our chosen genre had evolved, almost overnight, into, essentially, a funhouse mirror image: it was distorted, mutated into a shell of its former self, resulting in people liking the garbage from the South, which had the nerve to call itself fucking rap music. Reggie seized the opportunity to keep his name alive in the industry by releasing Ill At Will Vol. 1, a mixtape designed to market what was slowly becoming a nonexistent album in the vein of Cormega's original version of Testament and Large Professor's The LP.

In an ideal world, that mixtape would have dovetailed nicely in to the marketing of Red Gone Wild. Since we don't live in an ideal world, it's important to note that, while the disc was met with a positive reaction, Def Jam still wasn't convinced that Reggie Noble had fans, choosing instead to keep its head buried in the sand. In 2005, Redman quietly dropped a second volume, Ill At Will Vol. 2: BC4 (Straight Outta Lo-Cash), an awkwardly-titled mixtape that can be seen as more of a showcase for Reggie's Gilla House cronies Icarus, Saukrates, and fellow Jerseyite Gov Mattic.

Ill At Will Vol. 2 was made available for sale online, and if you really wanted to, you can score an import copy on Amazon. However, it wasn't nearly as successful as its companion, and Reggie was forced to shake his head, all while Def Jam quietly laughed behind his back, chuckling about the fan base that didn't actually exist. Reggie scrapped the majority of Red Gone Wild (an album that saw its promotional copies reviewed in magazines such as Blender, who I remember giving it a bad review), abandoned the few singles that had leaked ("I C Dead People", the Eminem-produced song that featured haunting sampled vocals from deceased artists 2Pac, Biggie, Big L, and Big Pun, was one of the many casualties: other tracks, such as "Fuck Da Security" (or "Rush Da Security", depending on where you found it), and "Future Thugs", a collaboration with labelmates Ghostface Killah and Ludacris, still haven't officially seen the light of day) and started from scratch.

None of the following songs were even close to consideration, by the way.

1. LO-CASH INTRO
Well, it is a mixtape, after all, so it would be kind of strange if there wasn't an intro on here.

2. I'M HIGH AS FUCK (FUNK DOC)
I'm not really sure why Reggie was compelled to refer to himself as "Funk Doc" on this mixtape (issues with Def Jam, maybe?), but regardless, Redman's lone verse on here is pretty damn good, and he's always sounded decent over even the most awkward of beats.

3. PARTY PEOPLE (FUNK DOC FREESTYLE) (FUNK DOC)
Reggie obliterates Marley Marl's beat for Big Daddy Kane's "Long Live The Kane". Nice!

4. TURN DAT SHIT UP (FUNK DOC)
And then we're presented with this shit.

5. DEEPER COVER (FUNK DOC FEAT ICARUS & SAUKRATES)
There's something about the beat to Dr. Dre and Snoop Doggy Dogg's "Deep Cover" that makes it almost impossible to sound bad, although Saukrates tries his best to prove me wrong. Reggie sounds pretty good, but the real star is Icarus, who rips his verse to pieces and makes a reference to an older Christina Milian song that will cause your mind to wander elsewhere.

6. ONE ON ONE (SAUKRATES)
This Sauk solo shot is a much better showcase for him. I highly doubt Dr. Dre would go out of his way to promote an artist that isn't one of his own on a random mixtape, but the impostor, who isn't convincing in the least bit, is a nice touch.

7. SAUKRATES SEASON (SAUKRATES)
This isn't objectionable in any way, but it's also not very memorable.

8. GILLA GRIND 4 HOES (FUNK DOC FEAT MELANIE & ICARUS)
Reggie swipes Shawn Carter's "Change The Game" and shares mic duties with his boy Icarus (or Icadon, depending on where you look him up) and female singer/rapper Melanie, who kind of fucks the song up. Reggie and Icarus sound good, though.

9. MADE IT (ICARUS)
The beat for this Icadon solo shot is annoyingly perky, like a hot, vapid cheerleader, but Icky has impressed me so far, and this track keeps those expectations high.

10. STAND UP (FEAT ICARUS)
Bonus points for not simply jacking the beat from that Ludacris song about the life and times of the midget that hangs around his neck. Kanye West's beat for Luda's song is at least engaging, though: the instrumental on here is on the opposite end of the spectrum. Like in the "don't bother" field. Oh well.

11. G.W. BRIDGE (FUNK DOC FEAT GOV MATTIC)
There's too much of a buildup, so much so that you'll probably think this is an interlude and not an actual song. Once it kicks in, Reggie and Gov Mattic (in his first rhyming appearance on an Ill At Will mixtape) dress to impress, and it shows.

12. DA BANGER (FUNK DOC FEAT R. KELLY & JAY-Z) (BEST OF BOTH WORLDS, PART 2)
I'm not sure if anybody really wanted to know what Redman, Kells, and Shawn Carter sounded like when on the same track, but here you go. At least Reggie inserted himself onto one of the better tracks from the second Best Of Both Worlds disc, and not the insipid, uninspired, ridiculously horrible first collaboration, which has been determined to be the root cause of most people giving up hip hop for Scandinavian death metal.

13. TEAR IT UP (FUNK DOC FEAT GOV MATTIC)
Nothing to see here, my two readers.

14. 8 1/2 MILE (FUNK DOC FREESTYLE) (FUNK DOC)
I actually prefer "8 Mile" to "Lose Yourself" when it comes to motivational Eminem songs, so I was pleased to hear about this track. However, this song sucks ass in an almost irresponsible regard.

15. LO-CASH OUTRO
Reggie and Gov Mattic proceed to promise two additional volumes of this series (numbers 2 1/2 and 3: both of them are also advertised on the back of the liner notes, but neither one ever materialized). Pretty run of the mill outro for a pretty run of the mill mixtape.

16. YOUR SO GANGSTA (BONUS CUT BITCH) (FUNK DOC FEAT FATIMAH)
If this were on an actual Redman album, you would skip it. The fact that it appears here on a mixtape and that it jacks the beat from a Twista song doesn't make it any less skippable.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Ill At Will Vol. 2 suffers from a fucked-up subtitle, a reliance on guests artists, and the use of weaker instrumentals than we're used to from our mixtapes. The real problem, though, is that Reggie Noble fails to impress, and I'm a huge Redman fan. His rhymes sound good on some of the songs, but on others he comes off as coasting, an unusual tactic from an artist that was getting fucked over by his label for not meeting expectations. Ultimately, this mixtape didn't set up Red Gone Wild very well at all, which may explain why it took two additional years for that disc to crawl up from under its rock.

SHOULD YOU TRACK IT DOWN? Naah. Don't bother: it's not very good. Fans of Reggie's (probably literal) weed carrier Icarus may find something of merit on here, but your time would be best spent discovering the cure for cancer or tracking down a prostitute with twelve toes.

-Max

RELATED POSTS:
Read all of the other Redman-related posts by clicking here.

5 comments:

  1. the most felonious vocalist in the wide world of showbusinessAugust 15, 2008

    You know I'm going to comment anytime you mention Cormega. He claims that the version of The Testament that he put out a few years ago was the original version except for two minor changes. One, he did not include "Mega Gonna Hold His Own", a bounce track he has always refused to perform because it was strictly an assignment from Def Jam. The other change has a similar justification. Def Jam had refused to include the original incarnation of the title track which Mega perceived as an attempt to appease Medusa's famed drinking buddy, Nasir Jones. So, he included the original version of "The Testament" and the version that the label was willing to include on the album. It's kind of silly that people still talk about The Testament as a lost treasure. Opportunity and momentum were lost by Cormega but the album is available. If you're just dying to hear the album the way Def Jam conceived it, search for "Mega's Gonna Hold His Own" online. I don't mind it at all but I respect Corey's disdain for it. Actually, I'd like to suggest The Testament for review, Max. It's an official solo release and the next logical step in the Cormega discography. If you don't own it I'll but it for you for Christmas/winter holiday. As long as you promise to review it. You are down with payola, right?

    I'd carry weed for Icarus. That dude knows how to rap. Plus, I doubt he does much touring so I'd be more of a pot holder than a weed carrier.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Mr. AquariusAugust 15, 2008

    nice scandinavian remark. so true.

    ReplyDelete
  3. "I'm not really sure why Reggie was compelled to refer to himself as "Funk Doc" on this mixtape (issues with Def Jam, maybe?"

    It's one of his names, knwamean: Redman, Reggie Noble, Funk Doc, etc. ...

    ReplyDelete
  4. Turn That shit up is one of my favorite Red tunes .. that said this mixtape is mildewy and not at all fresh.Thankfully Red redeemed himself with Red Gone Wild!Dope review!
    chronwell

    ReplyDelete
  5. hey yo max, you should review Saukrates' The Underground Tapes album

    ReplyDelete