Thursday, May 5, 2011

Gunz N' Butta

Gunz N' Butta
03:00PM ET April 28th, 2011
Contributor: DeAndre Rozan
A Rocky Williform Company


Cam'ron has never been a universally-loved rapper. His unwieldy cockiness, bizarre wordplay and inconsistent discography have kept him from becoming the megastar that he apparently thinks he is. But Killa Cam has been able to parlay all of the above into a respectable run that has been sprinkled with the occassional pop hits, lots of street bangers and more NYC love for he and his Diplomats crew than people outside of the five boroughs would probably believe.

On Gunz N' Butta, Cam shares the spotlight with his protege Vado; and the results aren't earth-shattering, but they're sure to please Dipset fans eager for the reunited crew's official full-length album which is reportedly coming later this year. Gunz N' Butta is the typical collaborative album between a star and his lesser-known compadre, there are flashes of brilliance, but it's hard to shake the feeling that this is just a place-filler to whet the appetites of Dipset fans. The album is constructed from mixtape tracks and unreleased material from Cam's abandoned U.N. project, and that gives an indicator as to the consistency of the album overall.

"They Don't Like You" is one of the better female-friendly tracks to come out of the Diplomats camp, who are known to appeal to the fairer sex as often as they rep for the streets, with Cam spinning his usual double-entendres and bizarro metaphors. Vado comes off as the de facto Jim Jones on this set of songs, but handles himself well, never totally outshined by his more famous co-star. Vado remains anchored in hardcore street-hop, balancing Cam's more flamboyant flourishes well. The oddball electro of "Speakin in Tungs” isn't the miss that it seems like it should be, recalling the best of Timbaland's Bahrain-influenced productions.

Araab Muzik handles the majority of the production, sounding stuck somewhere between Only Built 4 Cuban Linx-era RZA and Just Blaze at his most dramatic. Muzik's soundscapes can evoke cheap 70s horror movies and operatic bombast with equal skill and the two emcees sound confident no matter what the beatmaker throws at them.
For returning Cam’ron and Diplomats fans who don’t mind a little bumpy with their ride, Gunz n' Butta is the casual collaboration album done right. That’s really saying something, since this collection of mixtape tracks and new numbers was originally promised as the inaugural release of Killa Cam’s post-Diplomats crew, the U.N., but last man standing Vado is a true asset and this final product still hits hard. “Speakin in Tungs” is a strange electro stunner that sounds like Cam called producer Diplo to cut an answer track to Timbaland’s great “Indian Flute,” and when Dipset’s strangest lyricist opens “They Don’t Like You” with the great “Baby girl, don’t let them bleach your dome/You should be sittin’ in somethin’ peach and chrome,” you’ve got one of the best bedroom numbers in the whole Dipset universe. Protégé Vado sounds close in delivery to Cam’s usual partner, Jim Jones, and offers a similar thug base, supporting his mentor with rhymes that are less obtuse and more street. Besides a handful of cuts from others, production is handled by the skilled Araab Muzik, who twists ‘70s horror soundtrack loops and bombastic opera samples into tracks that demand attention.

That being said, there really is no way to get past the tossed-off feel of the album, which is understandable. But it says something about Cam's charisma that a project that was assembled from spare parts isn't the forgettable embarrassment that it should have been. Vado sets the table for himself well, and fans will definitely be clamoring for more material from the young rhymer in the future. Whether or not you love this will most likely depend on how much you love Dipset. But it does little to quell the impatience fans are beginning to voice regarding Cam'ron and Co.'s inability to deliver a group album following their announced reunion over a year ago
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