Review of new Crooked I album Apex Predator
There are probably plenty of you reading this, some of whom consider themselves Hip Hop headz, that don’t know Crooked I. However, Crooked I is no newcomer to the Rap game. Even before Joe Budden released Pump It Up and Royce Da 5’9 was getting love from the more commercial crowd, Crooked I had arrived. Crooked I was signed to legendary label, Death Row, the label that has played home to the likes of Dr Dre and Snoop Dogg.
Apex Predator is technically the debut album from Long Beach MC Crooked I. But he has been on the scene for a while now, boasting many features and a few EPs and mixtapes to boot. Whilst there has been mixed views on Crooked I, perhaps the reason why he hasn’t blown up yet, Apex Predator, provides his and Slaughterhouse fans more of what they expect.
Apex Predator opens with YODO (You Only Die Once). Many rappers in the past have gone in to the six million ways to die route, Crooked I opens up a few on this track. YODO (You Only Die Once) is perhaps one of those blueprint tracks you get from West Coast rappers and definitely a mould created by Death Row.
However, many fans may wonder if Crooked I can deliver music and lyrics of any substance. Well listen for a little longer and the album moves to Does Anybody Care. In this Crooked I raps, “You could be fighting hunger / Not the Ghandi type, hunger strike / Fighting for something right / I mean fighting the type of hunger a little girl in a third world / Fights every day, ‘till her stomach is nothing but something that her spine is hiding under / Only been alive five summers / Hunger pangs, her heart beating like some live drummers…” the lyrics flow with ease deliver a message and placed on top the Tabu supplied beat you have a great track. The music itself is simplistic and broaching mellow, with basic, stripped back drums, allowing the lyrics to paint the vision of some harsh realities.
Loads of us love Tech N9ne, and we are honoured by his presence. Incidentally, this isn’t an album loaded with collabs and other rappers. Tech N9ne is the only guest and what a guest. On Let Me Get It, both rappers showcase their huge skills, bursting out upbeat and energetic flows that get you moving. Crooked I spits, “Tongue full of dung, they shit talking / Niggas want me dead? Fuck it, I’m still walking / Enemies in the club? Fuck it, I’m still parking / The coup, first put the roof on a milk carton / Walked in, they hand me the mic / Told baby girl, it gotta be tonight / My bed, or yo’ bed, yeah I’m thinking with both heads / You know great minds think alike…” Great track and definitely one of the highlights of a packed album.
Other highlights include the ridiculously simplistic Sumthin from Nuthin, which is essentially Crooked I tappng a desk or mic and beat boxing as the backing track.
Sadly whilst there are some great highlights, some of the lyrics are on point and at times it feels Crooked I fails to deliver the punchline in the tracks, either due to poor delivery or clumsy writing, either isn’t really acceptable in this day and age.
At one time Slaughterhouse was revered as pioneers who were going to change Hip Hop for the better. Since that time, questions have been asked over the writing style and quality of tracks coming out. Crooked I does test this theory and puts in some great displays with the mic matched by a great ability with the pen. The production is good and at times the album is first class. Sadly this isn’t on a consistent enough basis and the album contains as many average tracks as good ones. A positive is that there are no stinkers on there though.
If I was you, I wouldn’t go out and buy the album, but I would definitely get a listen and pick out the tracks for you. Apex Predator as a whole is good, but some of the component tracks are better than that and deserve a place on your iPod.