Almost 2 decades have passed since the trio known as The Lox appeared on the classic banger ‘Last Day‘ on Notorious B.I.G’s multi platinum opus Life After Death. Following the death of Biggie Smalls,t hey and Ma$e were unceremoniously handed the torch to lead the then ubiquitous BadBoy Label. While Ma$e displayed a more mainstream sound compared to his Children Of The Corn days, a more street oriented sound was expected from The LOX. Their debut ‘Money,Power,Respect’ was in fact a mix of street gems (the title track, The Heist pt 1 etc) and questionable pop material(if you think I’m jiggy!!), the album, well was uber-successful but personally they felt they weren’t steered right which led to them signing with the rising Ruff Ryders label which in turn afforded each members a platform to showcase their skills on a solo level.
As a fan, I thoroughly enjoyed The Lox as a group. Their styles were distinct, Jada had that gruff sound, Styles P had that confident, cocksure demeanour and Sheek balanced it out with his slightly high pitched flow. I remember often arguing with friends about who the best spitter in the crew was and the 2 names that pop up more than often was ‘Kiss and Styles with Sheek getting the short end of the stick for the most part( I must say his performance on ‘All About Tha Benjamins‘ was remarkable though). With that being said, let’s sit back, relax and take a look at their debut solo projects in chronological other
Jadakiss – Kiss Tha Game Goodbye (2001)
Jadakiss was the first to break out and the timing was right, DMX was at his peak(in both Music and films), Eve was also in her commercial prime and Drag-On’s solo (despite peaking at #5 in the Billboard 200) didn’t do much to help the Ruff Ryders label(Remember that infamous Source magazine review). Who else could the RR team trust to deliver something note-worthy? Of course J to the Muah!
Jadakiss definitely went the whole nine in delivering this top notch project, for the most part I reiterate that this album is SOLID, sans the humongous amount of tracks (21) to choose from and less than a handful fillers which he definitely could have done without. The production was intense from Alchemist, P.K, Just Blaze and of course DJ Premier among others who helped craft this body of work. I, myself could do without that Pharell joint- it was cool but doesn’t really break new grounds.
Last words: A near perfect debut with so many bangers to choose from: We Gonna Make it, Show Discipline, None of y’all better,Feel me etc.
Styles P – Gangster And A Gentleman (2002)
Next up was Styles P, his single ‘The Life‘ dropped at the height of the Rawkus records era as Styles teamed up with Pharoahe Monch in delivering such goodness. That tune pretty much set the tone of what was to be his debut ‘Gangster And A Gentleman’ which dropped about a year after Kiss’s debut. Styles P displayed insightful, sincere lyrics while still giving us that good ole braggadocio, street oriented bangers. You could say the 2 sides were presented in somewhat equal quantities coupled with brilliant production from Alchemist, Swizz, Rockwilder, P Killer tracks etc. My favourite cut is the conceptual ‘Nobody Believes Me’ where he had , Cross and Jae Hood playing several roles as weapons of his choice. Can we say it was slightly more enjoyable than Kiss’s debut? Maybe so, maybe no but it kinda pushed the envelope a few steps. No more shiny suits or glossy cuts,this was straight brutally honest rap.
In my opinion, Styles P gave exactly what we expected of him, I just wish he could have made it shorter. 24 tracks, I got ADHD bro (I keed, I keed).
Sheek – Walk Witt Me (2003)
Sheek dropped his debut much later and despite being on a major label like Universal, it didn’t quite break any bank or made a huge impact(what went wrong??). Can we blame it on timing,this was when crunk was on the rise and I dare say if he had dropped it a year or 2 before it might have made a difference. Most often slept on I must add, besides the Dj Green Lantern banger ‘Might D-Block’, the project had more than a handful of gems(In/Out,Turn it up/How I love you,OK etc). You definitely have to give him props for sticking to his guns at a time when commercial crunk infused rap was gaining dominance and that so called New York sound was taking the back seat.
So there you have it, what do y’all think about each individual project? Do they trigger past memories or did some of you completely missed them? Lay your thoughts in the comments below.