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CL Smooth
American Me

CLSmooth.jpgThe comeback trail can be a slippery slope to climb, even for the most revered rap veteran. So when a largely underappreciated lyricist such as CL Smooth attempts a full-fledged return with his first solo effort, American Me, the chances of success are slim. Add to that the fact that former partner Pete Rock’s jazzy production is absent from the disc, and the odds are further stacked. Still, the Mecca Don manages to spit in the face of father time and deliver a long-overdue lyrical onslaught.

Even after a decade of sporadic guest appearances, CL proves that his liquid flow is still intact. Rhyming over the spine-tingling guitar riffs of the Arsonist-produced title track, he confirms, “If there was any doubt before/I could ever return/Watch and learn/This the type of heat that make Pete squirm.” Whether he’s reflecting on his family on “Call on Me” or braggin’ and boastin’ on the ’70s soul-dripping “Gorilla Pimpin’,” the Caramel King continues to deliver quick and densely packed metaphors.

Just as CL hasn’t lost his knack for writing compelling lyrics, he’s also adept at assembling a stable of capable producers to approximate Pete Rock’s sound. The Mike Loe–helmed “I Can’t Help It” features royal horns and a haunting chopped-up vocal sample, while the cool organ chords and wah-wah guitars of “CL Smooth Unplugged” suggest the mellow vibe of a smoky jazz joint.

It’s when CL wanders outside his sonic comfort zone that the storied wordsmith winds up sounding inert. Major culprits being the repetitive heavy metal guitars of “The Impossible” and the forced Caribbean-tailored riddims of “The Stroll.” Even with just a couple of stylistic mistakes, American Me’s main fault is its inability to entice virgin ears. Faithful fans reminiscing over yesteryear will still appreciate the living legend’s sound, but it will most likely miss the masses. Nonetheless, based on “The Outsider,” CL is still happy with his standing, as he professes, “Take notes and listen and love my position.”—BRETT JOHNSON

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  • DM@G!C







    C L Smooth is one of the sickest emcees to ever touch the mic. This cat got classic hits.

  • I Am A Hater

    CL Smooth=Great

  • rester

    record’s unbelievable

  • http://xxlmag Big Tone

    Dope. Rappers take heed. C.L. is back. Lyrical genius. My man from texas or wherever, come on now. you might not like C.L. but he is never whack. Be real dog and go listen ta Laffytaffy if you want bubble gum words.

  • http://harlemboyz_29yahoo.com harlemboyz_29

    I think he got a banger on his hands and if this is a comeback then he better get ready for his new found fame.

  • 11kap

    It’s a good thing CL is still making music for his fanbase. He can’t impress everybody, especially the finicky virgin listeners.
    The only thing I want to know is who can rap without using metaphors anyway? What the fuck is that shit supposed to mean?

  • http://.http:/wwww.fotolog.com/nandele Monkey Barz

    Cl what ya gon to do!


  • Sona Sparks

    It’s about time time the Caramel King come back home where he belongs…eveyrone out right now should sit down in school and let CL teach them what a real emcee is….Welcome Back Home!!!

  • http://myspace.com fuck_ross_bitch_ass

    iz it just me or are u niggaz ratin da trash good and all da real hip hop shit bad. U gave outkast a L u gave METH a L u gave LLOYD a L u gave CL SMOOTH an L but now i see Rick Ross wit a XL i see Field Mobb wit an XL and KILLER MIKE LOL WAT DALL HELL IZ WIT U NIGGAZ MAN i cant believe this man u niggaz are fallin off man da source iz callin man

  • kingly0577

    Man I am so happy to hear CL is back. People can say what they want but we need a breath of fresh air right now. We need someone talking about subjects that have substance. Speaking on things that we all go through in this life. I look forward to hearing the album.

  • thechi2000

    CL is that dude…

  • BeDUI

    CL Smooth he’s deepest on the mic goddamn it he ain’t changed he got those lyrics that he used to them back in 92 like “T.R.O.Y” keep up!!!

  • Andrew Rogers

    CL is a little bitch he just a dumb nigga who dont know what the hell hes talkin bout, i see him on da streets i whoop that trick. BAM BITCH IN YO EYE APPLE PIE.

  • Its on U

    Man Cl is 4 real. If you know anything about music, then you know about the witty verbal attacks that cl used to bring to the table before he left the game. As for ANDREW ROGERS, I don’t know you but get a grip. Knowing you sounds like you want to give your information to Wack people anonymous!

  • http://#howardsternEFNET CoMBo 187 the KUFI SLAPPER

    Yo Andrew rogers is tellin it like it is. CL is just angry he didn’t capitalize on the kufi craze when people were all on mos def and common. Now we just whoop them tricks. Negro is just embarassing himself with this album. Look at who signed him, Label: Shaman Work LOL what kinda kufi shit is that.

  • rob

    combo and ms. rogers both probably just started listening to “rap” a few years ago so give ‘em a break. most likely they were singin’ along to c+c music factory or some shit back in the day. cl is dope mang so give it up.

  • Bigstan

    CL’s mixtape is off the meter ! For a true rap head like myself, mc’s of his caliber are missing from the game. You teenage girls, Combo & Andrew Rogers need to listen to the classics, learn to appreciate real music…and shut the fuck up when grown men are speaking !

  • jux55

    the younger generation don’t want to think…the older generation wants substance…CL is in no way wack. Its easier to call out somone you will never meet. Half of these kids need to look at their parents or family members and see if their wack. those people have more effect on your life. CL messed up on alot of opportunities but he’s learning. this is his first attempt outside of his comfort zone. Respect that. Times are changing and the movement is on its way back. Lupe is a young cat and he’s definitely not “Laffy Taffy”. its time to think again.

  • Stop The Lies

    Texas, Combo, & Andrew Rogers: you cat are entitled to your opinion, so now that you’ve expressed it, go back & listen to your vanilla ice records and let real rap fans enjoy this music. If you appreciate TRUE lyricism, and a man who is not CONFORMING to what hip hop has become, you can appreciate the product that CL has put out. Hearing this MC’s voice is like hearing from an old friend. This is hip hop. I wasn’t too feeling him coming at Pete Rock in that one line for all the great music that they put out together, but I got over it. This man’s place in the game is secure. He has never had to rely on gimmicks, fancy marketing, or scantily clad women to get his point across. The Mecca Don CL Smooth IS HIP HOP, and if you can’t see that, or deny it, LEARN hip hop. Start w/BDP’s “My Philosophy” and start from there. ONE!

  • four fifteen

    Okay, so according to this review (and countless others) a “good” album is basically judged by the following: “…inability to entice virgin ears.” How does that mean it deserves an “L” rating??? This album is fire. Sounds like CL never left.

  • four fifteen

    Oh, I get it. The label is Shaman Work, not Interscope. XXL…”the 2006 Source.”

  • kj mac

    this album is SICK!!

    “heavens watching you” and “Call on me” are HOT!!

    as a young head that didnt grown up on Pete rock and Cl smooth, i LOVE IT!!!!!

  • http://www.myspace.com/thablaqsinattra B. Sinattra

    The writer of this article is so biased I could barely read it. He disses CL cuz CL got a lil older. The game needs some maturity. You can only “snap to this” but so long. The same writer will be on Dr. Dre’s nuts when “Detox” comes out watch.


  • tomA

    Good Album fuck xxl

  • fred dro

    A yo its like this b listen to something with some substance. to the reviewer ur a stupid ass cause every album u listen to u have to have a different ear, ass hole ur review was just bs!

  • http://www.myspace.com/dlawonline D-Law

    CL Smooth is DOPE!
    I gotta get it gotta get it in a New Yawk minute!

  • RITZ

    CL Is one of the illest to ever bless a mic.

    By the way,

    Crunk sucks.

  • http://xfader.com Regend

    From the Intro to the Heavin is Watchin…there may not be a MTV hit on this record but it’s a good listen from beginning to end. Rarely are albums made like this by an genre of music. And everything is positive…uplifting…and makes me proud to be an American that lovfs hip-hop. look CL in the eyes and give hiim a thank you for making a great album.

  • fuckouttahere


    August 18th, 2006 at 3:20 pm


    Fuck outta here! What the fuck you know about hip hop being from country ass texas??? You hicks are known for cattle and cowboys! Not hip hop! Stick to milking your cows! BTW, texas aint runnin shit kid, except for some farms and shit???

  • staroxpat

    u nigazz get ya shit 2geda, dis album is hip hop 1

  • http://ashrafdp.blogspot.com Ashraf

    Can anybody tell me what Apex P or Near Apex is, measured by a C L meter, made in Japan,operated by 4.5v battery pack.

    I also want to learn about the device C L Meter and what it is used for?

    Dhaka, Bangladesh

  • http://aghilibayou.blogspot.com Emilio Knox

    Hah I am literally the first comment to this great post?!?

  • Derrik G

    Good old fashion hip hop!!!! ‘Its a Love Thing’ is real head boppin, driving on the boulevard music. BRING THE 5 BOROUGH/EAST COAST MELODY BACK!!! THE HORNS, THE BASSLINE, THE STRINGS. CL, You rock the mic well!!!