Friday, December 14, 2012

Return of the Green Won

Pace Won and producer Mr. Green are back with their follow-up to The Only Color That Matters Is Green, titled The Only Number That Matters Is Won. If they make a third album, they're going to have to come up with a new title gimmick. But this album's dope enough that I hope they do.

The Only Color had some strong tracks, but it started to sink downwards about halfway through. Frankly, all of his solo outings have been kinda mixed... at first I assumed, to quote Canibus, "motherfuckin' Wyclef spoiled it." But then I thought Telepathy was pretty flat, and that Team Won album was kinda cool, but it didn't exactly knock me over either. Maybe Pace got too much of his power from his Outsidaz crew, and without them...?

Well, to some extent, I'm not sure that isn't true... Pace Won seems to have been struggling to find his role in "grown man rap" since his first solo endeavor, where he's just not spitting wild line after wild line on sick posse cuts. He still has clever rhymes, but they're always spread a lot thinner an Outz fan would like. Not many lyricists can really raise above the level of generic... I mean, we often give those rappers a pass anyway, because they still sound good over a dope track. But when Pace isn't spitting vicious battle rhymes - which is most of the time on all of his solo albums to date - you start to wonder how much longer until we have to revoke his pass? I feel like half of what's holding his albums up for me is my compulsion to want to like them as an Outz fan. And so when I hear his hook to "Fresh Air:" "these rappers are nondescript," it's tempting to suggest he not throw stones.

And seeing that his guests include Snoop Dogg, Elephant Pelican (a nondescript label mate), Freeway and Rival - who for some reason goes uncredited here, but he has a verse on "My Song" - doesn't exactly inspire confidence. Of course, Master Ace is on here too, so you know this album will at least have a highlight or two.

Anyway, I'm happy to report that, while he hasn't completely shed his growing pains yet, he's made progress. Relationship raps mixed with excessive pop culture references and name dropping for name dropping's sake still abounds, but he's.definitely more consistently compelling here.

Of course, that might be because Mr. Green has really stepped it up after their last album. The last album had definite moments; but this one is one giant moment. No downward sinks here, and thankfully he's finally stopped dissing Eminem (not that I'm defensive of Emzy or anything; but after three songs and only one worthwhile line between them, it's time to call it quits). Even when they're just updating Chaka Demus's "Murder She Wrote," it works. Granted, I still had more fun with Mr. Green and Young Zee's album (which was released practically in secret); but honestly, every song's a head nodder and I do recommend it.

Specifically, I recommend the vinyl. Not just because vinyl > CD any day of the week, but because this wax version features six exclusive bonus tracks. Two of them are just instrumentals, but the other four are proper songs completely up to par with the rest of the album. There's even some noteworthy guests (Tek of Smif N Wessun and Malik B of The Roots) hidden away on the vinyl exclusives. It's a nice, double LP in a full color picture cover, and it's limited to a run of 500, available exclusively from Good stuff.

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