War & Peace
Before anyone starts getting the bright idea that Cali and Detroit are about to engage in some kind of war because of the words of a few, consider this.
Yeah, the back and forth between Mistah F.A.B. vs. Royce the 5'9 has been entertaining. Both of them have proven that they can rap, but what makes their battle dope is that from listening to their disses, you get the feeling that they are simply trying to out rap each other and keep it on wax (I hope). After all, their exchanges did originate from an actual MC battle. As opposed to one of them supposedly setting the other one up for a robbery, banging the other's baby mama, placing threats on another man's son, someone getting robbed or some of the other crazy shit we've seen "rap beefs" get started over for the last decade or so.
But unfortunately, as with most battles, it swallows everybody's attention to the point that nothing else gets paid attention. Case and point, the new mixtape from Bishop Lamont and Black Milk, Caltroit. While the F.A.B. and Royce battle has been cool so far, Bishop and Negro Leche's collaboration is hands down the more interesting Cali to Detroit connect.
Sure, albums 9th Wonder has done with Murs and Buckshot and the GZA & DJ Muggs have made for interesting producer/rapper efforts, but Caltroit offers another dynamic in that here the producer (who dropped a very dope album earlier this year) raps too. Not in that Timbaland/Swizz Beatz "just don't fuck up the beat" kind of way, but in an actual "listen, I can spit too" kind of way. Kinda like Hi-Tek, but a just a little bit better.
Plus, I dug how the Caltroit theme could be felt though out the album with guest appearances from Cali cats like Ras Kass, Ya Boy, Planet Asia, Glasses Malone & Tash plus cameos from Motown folks like T3 and Elzhi of Slum Village and D-Town neighbor Kardinal Offiishal. Get this, the album even features both F.A.B. and Royce.
It also proves that cats from what seems to be two different places and lifestyles can hook up and make some dope shit together. The aforementioned projects from 9th and DJ Muggs, as dope as they were, paired them with rappers that were damn near on the same wavelength and geared almost exclusively to a certain audience. Depending on who you ask, that could be consider realistic marketing, or simply just preaching to the choir.
Caltroit stands out in that collectively, the album is wide open. Even though the album features mainly one producer (Black Milk executive, not exclusive, produced the album), its the input and presence of others that makes it tight. You have verses from everyone from Busta to Lady of Rage (yes, that Rage) to Guilty Simpson to Ms. Jade. It don't hurt that Focus dropped a couple beats on their either.
I'm hoping that those of you that haven't peeped this gem do so this weekend. Battles are an integral part of Hip Hop no doubt. But after you're finished arguing over "who got bodied"--give peace a chance.