Saturday, December 02, 2006

Review: Blaze - Colton Grundy: Tha Undying

Artist: Blaze
Album: Colton Grundy: Tha Undying
Year: 2004
Label: Psychopathic Records

Blaze Ya Dead Homie comes straight out of Detroit, Michigan, and is a member of Insane Clown Posse's Psychopathic Records camp. Now, I'm well aware that the ICP and their whole label aren't viewed with alot of respect by a large portion of people in the hip hop world, but I'm not one to base my judgements on popular opinion. To me, once you get past all their marketing gimmicks, Psychopathic Records have released some quality albums in the past, 'Colton Grundy' being another one to add to the list. Blaze started out in the hip hop game by being one half of the '2 Krazy Devils' along with Skrapz, they later changed their name to 'The Sleepwalkaz' however neither project was a huge success. After these attempts, Blaze then hooked up with Twiztid and were working on a project, but this was cut short due to Twiztid gaining the attention of Violent J who then decided to sign them to Psychopathic. This move also turned out beneficial for Blaze, as it opened the door for he himself to get a contract with the label. After dropping a self titled EP and the '1 Less G N Da Hood' album, Blaze unleashed 'Colton Grundy: Tha Undying' onto the world. Before you listen to this album it is important to understand that 'Blaze Ya Dead Homie' is like a character in a movie, and although this gets rid of any realism, it is original and you have to take it for what it is.

The album starts off with a short and fairly repetetive track, 'Bump This Shhh', before Blaze launches into 'The Touch of Death'. The beat, produced by R.O.C., hits hard and with Blaze's booming delivery, it ensures that although this track is short it is still sick. Next up comes the track which was chosen to feature on soundtrack for the Eidos Interactive video game '25 to Life', 'Shotgun', which features ABK and the creator of Acid Rap, Esham. This track was well produced by Lavel and has a simple but effective hook, and although each of the rappers hold their own in this track, I personally think Esham dominates. 'Etched Out' is another short track that is worthy of repeated listens, by this point you would be well aware the Blaze isn't a lyrical genius, but his original flow combined with some quality production is enough to earn my respect.

'If I Fall' which features Madrox, above all it is a track about struggling and perceverence, but it also features Blaze dropping some gangsta rhymes, which is typical of rappers out of the murder mitten. This is followed by Blaze showing his romantic side on 'Hey You', with lines such as "The bitch kinda smelt like fish'n'chips, but boy did she have a set of dick suckin' lips " you can tell that this guy has a way with words. 'Out Tha Gate' fails to grab me but it is followed by the straight gangsta 'Stick Ya Hands Up', which features ABK and is one of the album's more impressive tracks, especially because of the quality hook. This is followed by 'Further From The Truth', which is a slower paced track on the horror rap tip that has both an eery hook and beat.

In 'Dayz In My Neighborhood' Blaze offers some of his observations about the modern hip hop game, dissing studio gangstas, along with people gaining fame for getting shot and rappers who get bitches singing on all of their hooks. Blaze looks back in retrospect at a time when the industry was in a far better state than it is now, long before every rapper thought he could act and before commercialization became such a major issue in hip hop. 'Roll It Up' is a short track about Blaze going to the club and to be honest I don't rate it very highly at all, but thankfully the quality goes up a few notches with 'Mr Dead Folx'. Blaze begins by returning to his fake gangsta dissing ways, Violent J then drops by to drop some horror raps in his distinctive tone.

Blaze is again joined by ABK on 'Too Many Bitches', with the funky hook being care of Flint's legendary MC Breed. Although Blaze is lacking a bit in this track, ABK drops what is probably the best verse I've heard him rip. 'Time Line' is the chronological story of Blaze's fictional character, you can't knock the creativity behind the track and Blaze holds down the rapping side of things well, although I can definitely see people being disillusioned about listening to a fictional story about a former gangsta turned zombie. The final track on this album, 'Climbing', features Violent J, Madrox, Monoxide and Esham, and is rapped over a soothing beat produced by Fritz The Cat that escalates in intensity around the hook. Although it is probably has alot to do with me being a big Esham fan, but I think he steals the show again in this track with his smoothe delivery.

All in all this album is worth checking out if you have an open mind, but I would stay well away from it if you don't like thinking outside of the square. Personally, the gimmick of a dead rapper isn't really that easy to take, but this is made up for with Blaze's distinctive delivery and some great production and features, and to be fair a great number of the tracks don't have gimmicks attached to them at all. More people will hate this album than love it, but people who respect diversity and originality will find a great deal of positives to draw from it.

Blaze Ft ABK, Esham - Shotgun
Blaze Ft Violent J - Mr Dead Folx

3 Daytons out of 5

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