Review Summary: “I’m not arrogant I just know that I’m the sh*t.”
Have you ever heard an MC whose beats just don’t match his flow? Whether it’s Canibus spitting ferociously over a lame-ass beat by done by some nobody producer or Guru from Gangstarr rhyming lazily over one of DJ Premier’s awesome tracks when either of theses situations happens, it’s extremely frustrating. Add Chino XL to the latter category, one of the best lyricists who has been saddled with bad production his entire career and on his third album, not much has changed but he does get a few good beats that make for some of the best moments in his career.
So what do you do when you can’t find a producer to create a good beat for you? Have someone do a full scale hijacking of a good beat like Puffy used to do. The title track opens the album taking the beat from Potshead’s ‘Humming’ over which Chino spins an imaginative tale about how he writes things down before they happen with his ‘Poison Pen,’ it’s a great beat but doesn’t fit this song very well. ‘Messiah’ is done over some awesome classical strings that highlight Chino’s typically amazing lyrics including the hook:
And I'm not arrogant
I just know that I'm the sh*t
You f*ck around with me and you'll get pistol-whipped
by God's instrument, Chino is the lyrical messiah
The track that is the best example of any hype that Chino has received is ‘Wordsmith’ where he spits mind-numbing rhymes taking two o three similar phrases or words and rhyming them together in an incredible fashion, you need to read the lyrics to fully appreciate the greatness of this track but here’s an example “To sum it up, language is my essence, f*cked up in all my adolescence 'til my moms was out of lessons.”
The beat, made out of a classic piano is adequate if unspectacular but ‘Wordsmith’ truly is the highlight of Chino’s career. Else where, Chino is joined by the late Proof from D12 who also produces the beat on ‘Our Time’ and by Killah Priest on ‘Beastin’ they both make solid appearances.
Chino has a knack more making touching, heart-felt songs on every one of his albums, on Poison Pen
it’s the deeply personal ‘Can’t Change Me’ where he takes about how a woman can’t change him and says “Only thing men and women agree on is never to trust a woman.”
Although not as full of punchlines as his previous albums, Poison Pen
is probably Chino’s best album, he can rip a track with the best of them and although he has been perpetually confined to the underground, he still spits with tremendous passion, as he says on ‘B-Boy intro’ “It still raises hairs on the back of our neck when I hear a rapper rip straight from his heart for the respect, not the size of a check”
and Chino XL is one of the few rappers who still has the power to do that.
Can't Change Me