When it comes to hip-hop collectives, chemistry is key. Made up of Black Moon, Smif-N-Wessun, Heltah Skeltah and O.G.C., Boot Camp Clik have displayed their musical bond with organic posse cuts like 1995’s “Headz Ain’t Ready” and 1996’s “Leflaur Leflah Eshkoshka.” However, the Brooklyn crew’s ’97 debut, For the People, lacked overall cohesion. They made up for the misstep with their ’02 follow-up, The Chosen Few, and ’06’s The Last Stand. Unfortunately, BCC go back to square one with their fourth effort, Casualties of War.
Armed with leftover material from their last outing, BCC general Buckshot leads the charge on the Marco Polo–produced “My World” and the anthemic “A-Yo.” Even the oft-incarcerated 5FT makes a memorable appearance on the dizzying “BK All Day.” Still, it’s Boot Camp B-squader Ruste Juxx who steals the show, lyrically running down the crew’s discography: “‘How Many Emcees’ screamin’ ‘Uda Man’/‘Buck ’Em Down’ with that ‘Black Smif-N-Wessun’ in my hand.”
With about a dozen MCs jockeying for position on the 14-track album, it’s hard to discern one lyrical dart from the next. In fact, only Buck and Heltah Skeltah manage to consistently stand out from the pack. On the dreary block narrative “The Hustle,” the BDI Thug delivers one of his many well-crafted multisyllabic rhyme couplets (“Actually, on some factual shit/It’s hard to eat without the MAC and the clip”), while Ruck and Rock seamlessly trade bars on the bouncy “Bubblin’ Up.”
Unfortunately, when new recruits like Supreme, Blue Flame and the aforementioned Ruste Juxx begin to infiltrate the ranks of an already massive crew, the team’s chemistry gets diluted. Even more troubling are the absence of O.G.C.’s Louieville Sluggah and the presence of only one verse from Starang Wondah. Despite its moments, Casualties is a chaotic effort that is mildly entertaining but mostly confusing. Launching this attack with a fully loaded clip would’ve made a more powaful impak. —ROB MARKMAN