February 24, 2014

A Reader's Gut Reaction: Lil' Cease - The Wonderful World Of Cease-A-Leo (July 13, 1999)





(This is a perfect example of what I call 'running a Reader Review in order to buy myself some time'. Which isn't much of a nickname for a process, but whatever. Today's contribution is an admittedly old one submitted approximately nineteen years ago by Sir Bonkers (of the Diggin In The Crates blog), who apparently decided to tackle Lil' Cease (of the probably-defunct Junior M.A.F.I.A. Clique) and his solo debut, The Wonderful World Of Cease-A-Leo, on a whim. Leave your thoughts for him, and that infamous dumbass album cover art, below.  And I apologize for the fucked-up formatting: Blogger is acting like a baby.)


Short version: so I was listening to The Notorious B.I.G.'s “Big Poppa”, heard the “pass the keys to Lil’ Cease” line, remembered that he guested on a few songs I’d heard in the past, and looked him up on YouTube, where I came across a duet with Cardan that samples B.I.G.’s “10 Crack Commandments”. I found myself impressed with both rappers, who I previously only knew from being name-checked by both Biggie and Ma$e. After further Googling, I discovered that Lil' Cease had released a solo album, and within seconds I had found it on online, which is strange, since I cannot find Sauce Money’s album anywhere.

Anyway, since Wu-Tang weed carriers get a lot of attention on this blog, I thought B.I.G.’s number one henchman would be a good idea for a post.


The Wonderful World Of Cease-A-Leo (named after a nickname Biggie dropped in song once) came out in 1999, almost two years after the man who introduced him to the world had become unable to have any direct influence on the creative process, due to a serious case of drive-by shooting, and, as such, this shouldn’t be seen as a Biggie Smalls side project, although Cease's Junior M.A.F.I.A. cohort Lil’ Kim's debut, Hard Core, should only be seen that way, since it dropped in 1996 and Biggie actually appeared on it. Then again, Puff Daddy’s own 1999 effort Forever lists the late Christopher Wallace as an executive producer, so I'm probably wrong here. Regardless, Cease gave some of his M.A.F.I.A. brethren space to work on this project, but I won't dive too much into that because they all suck. (I'm sorry if I just insulted your favorite weed carrier's favorite weed carrier, but I have to keep it real.)


For reasons unknown to me, this party wasn’t thrown by Bad Boy Records, but instead by Lil’ Kim's vanity label, Queen Bee Records. That, however, didn’t stop the shiny suit man from crashing through the front door with a Bentley and spraying all of the attendees with Cristal, possibly because Puff Daddy truly believed that the successful carbon-copying of Biggie's Life After Death for Ma$e's Harlem World and Puffy's own work could also apply to every rapper alive (or dead). Because it's not quality that sells a record, it's buzz, and Lil' Cease did have an abundance of that, due to his affiliations.


The Wonderful World Or Cease-A-Leo sold zero copies, though, so I guess that backfired.

1. NO INTRO
I generally choose not to comment on skits and such, but the title of this one was a straight up lie.


2. MORE DANGEROUS (FEAT. BUSTA RHYMES, BRISTAL & G-DEP)
Nashiem Myrick’s instrumental, which consists of three piano notes repeated ad nauseum, reminded me of something a eulogy may be spoken over. Which is to say, it's almost as though the beat doesn’t know whether to sound mournful, because of the subject matter, or optimistic, because it’s pimping a product (the dangerousness of the participants, I assume), so it goes with “clinical” instead. Because I was too busy putting that last sentence together (the pre-edit version was much longer), I didn’t notice anyone was actually rapping until Busta’s hook kicked in, which means I completely missed Cease’s verse. Oh well.


3. GET OUT OUR WAY (FEAT. DIDDY & BLAKE C)
Since every EZ Elpee production I had heard until this one came across as a poorly put-together Neptunes effort, I was surprised that this one sounded like it came from the shiny-suit-singles reject pile, complete with a disco bassline and Diddy verse. Matter of fact, Diddy receives the most mic time on “Get Out Our Way”, since he gets to rant over the last minute of the song about his homeys and his own self before a ridiculously corny skit kicks in.


4. FUTURE SPORT (FEAT. REDMAN, BRISTAL & JOE HOOKER)
Redman does pretty well over this rambunctious Mario Winans instrumental. Since I don’t recall hearing any good rapping (except for from Funk Doc, obviously), and I didn’t particularly like the beat, and yet I still think this sounded good, I suppose this is one of those occasions where the song is greater than the sum of it’s parts.


5. LOOKING FOR A LADY (FEAT. BLAKE C)
Annoying 1980s synths and ab-libs by Puff Diddy. Oh, Cease is on here as well. And to put a cherry on top of this pile of horseshit, the track even ends with a homophobic skit!


6. LONG TIME COMING (FEAT. BANGER & BRISTAL)
According to Puff, they’re letting “B.I.G.’s spirit live vicariously through” them. However, they’re apparently not on the receiving end of any decent bars from Christopher. Maybe the boring instrumental on “Long Time Coming” extinguished his eternal flame. If Cease and company truly felt that they needed the spirit of Frank White to guide them, perhaps they should have tried that thing Butters did on one of the South Park Halloween episodes with the mirror.


7. GIRLFRIEND (FEAT. KELLY PRICE)
Nashiem Myrick provides an uncharacteristically suave instrumental. Lil’ Cease and Kelly Price’s vocals kind of melt away in it, which is to say they don’t obstruct the view. This could’ve been worse, I suppose.


8. PLAY AROUND (FEAT. JOE HOOKER, BRISTAL & LIL’ KIM)
What I originally believed would be a mediocre sleazefest, both because of it’s title and Kimberly’s presence, is actually a mediocre “you don’t want to fuck with me” track. Well, I’m glad that’s out of the way. (“Play Around” was also the first single, and the only one I even halfway remember ever hearing on the radio.)


9. CHICKEN HEADS (FEAT. CARL THOMAS)
I could tell you all about the faults in this song, but as soon as I realized which 1980s song this interpolated, I immediately pressed the skip button...and cried like a little bitch. (I have never listened to this song, so I actually have no idea what he's referring to. If you're in the know, shine a little light for the rest of us.)


10. 4 MY N----Z (FEAT. BLAKE C, BRISTAL, & JAY-Z)
I’ve always enjoyed shiny suit man Prestige’s beats, which are typically so glossy that you can see your own reflection. This one, which borrows from Kraftwerk's “Trans-Europe Express”, is no exception. I’ve also found Jigga's cool swagger to be a perfect fit for these instrumentals (see also: In My Lifetime, Vol. 1's “(Always Be My) Sunshine” and Puffy's Jigga-featured “Do You Like It… Do You Want It” from Forever), and, again, this song doesn’t disappoint.


11. WORK IT OUT
No guests this time. How bold. By the way, I’d like to find the guy who produced “Work It Out” and ask him if he regrets adopting the Spunk Bigga moniker (I'm just assuming that his mother didn't name him that). The beat is bouncy enough to have had some potential within the context of the shiny suit era, but Cease does what he can to keep this from being enjoyable.


12. MR. NASTY
Wasn’t Digga once the in-house producer for Undeas Records (the former label home of the Junior M.A.F.I.A.)? No wonder that label went under.


13. DOLLY BABY
Apparently Bad Boy R&B trio Total got this beat first, and used it for an interlude on their sophomore album. This bubbly, jazzy Mario Winans creation isn’t half bad, though, and since Cease isn’t the kind of rapper you’d expect to add any entertainment value to an instrumental, you can only ask of him not to subtract. On here, he fully complies.


14. DON’T STOP (FEAT. DIDDY)
Prestige produces another banger, and Cease does his thing, similar to how I described it during my comments on the previous track. Oh, and Puffy is on here, too.


15. EVERYTHING (FEAT. 112)
Although both Puff and Cease are certainly in a respectable position to record tribute songs to their fallen friend B.I.G., that doesn't mean that any of their attempts (Puff's “I'll Be Missing You”; this song; hell, even The Lox's “We'll Always Love Big Poppa” wasn't a masterpiece) could ever be confused with actual good songs. Which is one thing; blackmailing Bad Boy R&B quartet 112 to waste their time and respective talents on “Everything” is a whole other ball of wax.


16. B.I.G. & CEASE FOREVER (OUTRO)
Compiles every single time Biggie ever mentioned his friend Lil' Cease. It’s certainly nice to have been name-checked by one of the greatest rappers ever, and on several classic songs, no less: that’ll get people like me to listen to your crappy solo album. But even nearly fifteen years after it tanked at the box office, I still have one question: if you were such a good friend of his and he supported your rap career, why weren’t you ever a guest star on any of Biggie's songs while he was still alive? Maybe he realized early on that being a weed carrier doesn't necessarily translate into having skills behind the microphone. Which makes this song all the more ridiculous.

THE LAST WORD: Lil' Cease is a capable but unimaginative emcee who hasn’t a tiny fraction of The Notorious B.I.G.’s charm, not that any of that really matters: I went into The Wonderful World Of Cease-A-Leo hoping for some nice jiggy ass-shakers, not the next Ready to Die. Puff Daddy's army of high profile guests, producers, and bouncy samples are present and accounted for, but at this point he had been running nonstop for more than half a decade , so this album sounds pretty worn out, not unlike Puffy’s and Ma$e’s own efforts from 1999. Cease may have had a bit of excitement surrounding him at the time, but none of that translates into an entertaining album: The Wonderful World Of Cease-A-Leo has too much sugary shit that will harsh your buzz.


-Sir Bonkers

(Questions? Comments? Concerns? Leave your thoughts below.)

9 comments:

  1. The 'Spunk Bigga' bit made me laugh out loud. Very entertaining review.

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  2. I was scared Sir Bonkers on track 10 he was going to say see "I Know What Girls Like...", but I remembered that song doesn't exist, isn't that right everybody. Anyway, good review on a bland album.

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  3. The song that gets raped and pillaged on 'Chickenheads' is New Edition's 'A Little Bit Of Love (Is All It Takes)', a song I used to enjoy before I discovered 'Chickenheads' shiny suit glory, had since reconciled with after completely having forgotten about writing this review (Damn, how long has this been in the vault, for like four years?) and now dislike again after checking 'Chickenheads' for the answer to Max his question.

    Wow.

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    Replies
    1. new edition is the vocal, but the actual song is from Kashif...Bassline and all.

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  4. By the way, this was the track that got me checking for this in the first place. At least this still moderately bangs.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rpztCZegkCs

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  5. Max solve this riddle: Review the cold sun.

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  6. This song gives me more enjoyment than anything on this album: https://m.soundcloud.com/filnobep/rick-ross-drunk-in-love-remix

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  7. By the way Max. The sample you were wondering about for Chicken Headz is "Mood by Kashif. If you don't recognize the name you'll for sure recognize it when you listen to it.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w4QxW01P0qg#aid=P-3fahZq-Gw

    ReplyDelete