December 4, 2009

My Gut Reaction: Noreaga - Melvin Flynt - Da Hustler (August 24, 1999)

After the cantankerous mash-up of violent street tales, bouncy club tracks, and proclaimed love for blowjobs that was N.O.R.E., Noreaga's debut solo album, I elected to not pay any further attention to the further output of Victor Santiago. Because of my blasted collector gene, I only checked for his collaborations with production team The Neptunes, but as far as I was concerned, his solo career was completely uncalled for; he really needed his incarcerated partner, Capone, alongside him to help balance out his act.

As a result, I didn't give a damn when his sophomore set, Melvin Flynt - Da Hustler dropped. Hitting store shelves a little over a year after his first effort, Noreaga continued his quest to bring Queens to the forefront of hip hop, neglecting entirely the fact that a lot of great rappers already came from fucking Queens. Regardless, he managed to move over half a million copies, so in some circles Melvin Flynt - Da Hustler would have been considered a success.

The dual album covers were intended to portray both aspects of our host: the businessman and the thug, who are married together out of convenience. In reality, they serve to make the project appear more serious than it actually is: Melvin Flynt - Da Hustler is chock full of the same random bullshit that permeated the N.O.R.E. waters.

The most interesting aspect of this album is that Victor himself has apparently disowned it. It wasn't released without his consent or anything (that would happen later in the man's solo career), but he still wasn't happy with the final product: on his next album, Capone-N-Noreaga's The Reunion, he actually apologizes for the lackluster effort, asking fans for forgiveness because he "didn't wanna make music" as his "pops just died" during the recording process. That is a very valid excuse, I have to say: contractual obligations can be a bitch.

So, when I happened across Melvin Flynt - Da Hustler in my local library, I decided to give it a spin. While I wasn't expecting miracles, I was still secretly hoping that this album would have more in common with Capone-N-Noreaga's The War Report (Noreaga's album debut) than with N.O.R.E.

Was I right?

Underneath this otherwise terrible introductory skit is the current of a man, played by Noreaga, who lost his father prior to the release of this album, an event that will probably overshadow the rest of the tracks on here, regardless of when they were originally recorded.

You can hear a tinge of depression within Noreaga's hook for this song, which is dedicated to his late father. EZ Elpee's beat is a tad bit too flashy for the subject matter, but both the host and his guest bring their A-game (or whatever its equivalent is in the weed carrier world) to the track, so at least the sentiment is heartfelt.

I'm going to ignore the chorus on here to make my point: SPK's beat is actually really entertaining, and Victor gives listeners a track that sounds as if it would have fit seamlessly onto N.O.R.E., if not The War Report itself. All the hook manages to do is remind listeners that the Noreaga who appears on here is the upgraded, less-hungry version. But otherwise, this wasn't bad.

Did Nore just tell everybody to listen to “Sometimes”, from two tracks ago, as an example of his lyrical prowess? How self-aware he must be about his career in the music industry: he knows that his “fans” will only care about his older, more popular material, but he still needs to force his listeners to sit through his newer material in order to justify his continued existence within hip hop. Oh yeah, this song is fucking awful.

After “Superthug” hit the charts in a big way, an old friend of mine tried to bet me that Nore's follow-up would definitely feature even more production work by The Neptunes. As that was a no-brainer, this statement (naturally) led to a shoving match, and I eventually slept with his wife and stole his prize-winning lawn gnome, although I now cannot remember if any of that had to do with the argument or if it was because his wife was hot. Anyway, Pharrell and Chad loan one of their most boring creations to their gracious host, who appears content that their mere presence behind the boards will guarantee radio airplay for this track, completely neglecting the fact that the song is about selling cocaine, a topic which Clear Channel is clearly against, and besides, the Clipse hadn't yet become popular. This song wasn't very memorable anyway, which is a problem of an entirely different color.


The original “Bloody Money” was one of my favorite tracks from The War Report; its sequel ended up becoming a throwaway track on the soundtrack to something called Ride co-starring Idalis (from MTV veejay and Six Feet Under fame). Which was weird in and of itself, since the sequel featured Nasir Jones. Anyway, it's rare when an artist provides a direct sequel to a hot commodity in any medium that arouses the same sense of euphoria you felt for its predecessor, and to nobody's surprise (I'm sure), Noreaga and his producer, EZ Elpee, completely miss the mark on here.

With generic, nondescript instrumentals such as these, I'm still wondering to this day how Swizz Beatz became so fucking popular. (I know I've brought him up in the past with a similar complaint, but it's worth repeating: I like a small pocket of the man's work, not unlike the fifth pocket in your jeans that only fits change, and even that's pushing it, but that's where it stops). This entire beat sounds like what you hear coming from the earphones of that kid on the bus or the train who ignores everybody while blasting his shit, who almost certainly has low-grade hearing loss because of how loud his music is playing, and the lyrics on here only serve to make you dumber.

I imagine that knowing you will never be anybody's favorite rapper is an especially freeing mindset to be in, as it alleviates all of the pressure and places blame squarely on the shoulders of the fans, as if to say, “It doesn't matter if the music I make is garbage, you're the stupid motherfucker who wanted me to release an album in the first place.” I feel sorry for everyone that actually spent money on this piffle.

What about those folks that harbor elements of both the real and the fake? That portion of the population is sorely under-represented in hip hop. Life isn't always black and white, folks: ambiguity is the new red. Final Chapter easily outshines his host over Shuga Bear's bouncy, throbbing beat, but that may only be because Victor sounds like he couldn't give less of a fuck if he actually tried.

Titles such as this one make me proud to call myself a writer. I'm sorry, I meant “embarrassed”. I'm not aware of what exactly a Scarlett O'Harlem is, nor do I care to, but luckily this Trackmasters song itself is so bland, the decision to either put this shit on 'repeat' or to never listen to it ever again is an easy one to make.

I see what Victor was going for in the chorus, but I can't help but feel that he only used the phrase “hot soup” because that was simply the only rhyme he could come up with. I kept waiting for the conflict to happen (ex-con that comes back home and is torn between leading a positive life (as a rapper, as possible as that can be) and reverting back to his old tricks), but said conflict never comes to light. Life isn't always black and white, folks.


Noreaga addresses criticism that he isn't even trying with his rhymes (including, I assume, what I wrote about him earlier, which would mean he has tremendous foresight) by saying succinctly: “I'm still hungry, yo / I eat, like, twice a day.” You see, you two? Nothing to worry about here: the man is clearly still not meeting the daily nutritional requirements to lead a healthy life, so your concern is unnecessary. I love how this track lists two guest stars, and neither one gets to spit a verse of their own. Hip hop excess at its least enjoyable.

You can't listen to this in a club setting, it doesn't play well in your car, it won't help you fall asleep at night, it doesn't get better with age, alcohol, or weed, and if you believe that this song will get that girl you've had your eye on all evening at the bar to drop her panties, you're sadly mistaken. So, what was the purpose of this shit, Nore?

16. OH NO
Prior to this post, this was the only song from Melvin Flynt - Da Hustler that I had already heard. (I had somehow flaked on "Cocaine Business (Hysteria)", which I guess proves that I'm not as big a Neptunes stan as I had originally thought.) Pharrell and Chad supplied one of their bling-ier instrumentals for this first single, effectively cultivating a poor sequel to “Superthug”, although I will cop to the fact that I liked this song back in 1999. The all-star remix, which does not appear on this album, has the distinction of being the first track that united Capone with Noreaga after the former was released from the clink. I always wondered why the label didn't hold the album back until that track could be added and mastered: wouldn't a reunion have been a valid selling point?

I'd say it's a safe bet that absolutely nobody listened to this song back in 1999 and truly believed that the lead-off artist in this line-up, Lil' Wayne, would become the game's most popular rapper within the span of a decade. While I'm left confused as to what shit I'm supposed to play (“What shit are you talking about?” “THAT shit, motherfucker!”), the song is still a weak excuse for posse cut “entertainment”, and the Mannie Fresh beat is fairly generic. How is it possible that I also feel that both Wayne and Juvenile outrap their host?

While Nore turns political at the very end of this song, he wastes every preceding moment on the same banal subject matter that we've been bombarded with ever since this nightmare started.

Ending the album with a skit based around a character from N.O.R.E. that I wasn't fond of? Heaven knows I'm miserable now.

THE LAST WORD: When the artist himself dismisses the work, most criticism is diffused almost immediately. It turns out that Noreaga may be pretty objective about his own work: Melvin Flynt - Da Hustler is hippopotamus shit pressed onto a plastic disc. The music is uniformly awful, the guests wear out their welcome rather quickly, and Victor Santiago makes a valid argument that he should he booted off of the hip hop island immediately. Oh, if only that was how the music industry truly worked. This was a waste of my time, but hell, at least I didn't actually buy this shit.


Noreaga – N.O.R.E.
Capone-N-Noreaga – The War Report


  1. that was nice to read. still i wonder why you don't review the usual suspects: can't wait to read your opinion on tech n9ne, warren g, ghostface, bk-one, skyzoo...

  2. Scarlett O'Harlot... that shit woulda rocked

  3. Why you don't have posted any Onyx review, only 'Criminal Minded' from KRS-One and only some albums from Big L and O.C. from the D.I.T.C crew?

  4. Excuse me Max, am I looking in the wrong places or you haven't reviewed any of Naughty by Nature's stuff?