29
Jan
10

Album Review: Strong Arm Steady – In Search of Stoney Jackson

Strong Arm Steady - In Search of Stoney Jackson

Strong Arm Steady – In Search of Stoney Jackson [MP3 Download]

Stones Throw Records | Blacksmith Records

By Mookie

Back when Death Row Records dominated the West Coast rap game, a loose collective of Cali-based emcees including frontman Xzibit, formed Strong Arm Steady and built a considerable buzz on the underground circuit with a number of popular mixtapes. Since then, X-to-the-Z along with a handful of other members left the group, making Strong Arm Steady a trio composed of Mitchy Slick, Phil Da Agony, and Krondon.

In Search of Stoney Jackson is the group’s second studio album, and the first to be released on Talib Kweli‘s label, Blacksmith Records Stones Throw Records. With exclusive production from the legendary Madlib and features from the likes of Phonte (of Little Brother), Evidence, and Planet Asia among others, on paper, this project couldn’t look much better.

The actual result proved to be less than amazing. While Madlib holds up his end on the production, masterfully crafting a number of impressive, sample-heavy beats, Strong Arm Steady disappoints lyrically on the majority of the album. Phil Da Agony sounds awkward as he fumbles through most of his verses, almost as if he was rhyming off the top of his head the whole time. And while Krondon‘s efforts are quality at different times throughout the album, it’s not enough to single-handedly support the group when Phil didn’t bring his A-game and Mitchy Slick is borderline absent, only appearing on two of the album’s 18 tracks.

 But don’t write Stoney Jackson off just yet, guest appearances save this album’s replay value. Phonte comes through on the opener Best Of Times with the smoothest of hooks and Talib Kweli drops a dope verse on the Roxanne Shante-sampling Get Started. Unfortunately, some guest spots hurt more than they help. Like the cluttered True Champs that unsuccessfully squeezes in verses from 5 different rappers.

 As I mentioned before, Madlib really makes sure there’s not a negative comment to say about the production on this album. Songs like “Pressure,” my personal favorite, make it impossible for you not to bob your head to the bass-infested beat. The same ensues on the mean-mug worthy “Ambassadors”, while he flaunts a more laid-back style on “Chittlins & Pepsi”.

 If your a big fan of Strong Arm Steady, In Search of Stoney Jackson might be a disappointment as it clearly sits on the shoulders of good guest features and exceptional production, but if your just looking for some quality underground West Coast rap, pick this one up – it’s worth a spin.

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