As a founding member of Dipset, Jim Jones knows a thing or two about rap crews. Following the clique’s ascension up the hip-hop ranks, the Harlem rapper began to focus on a solo career and hit it big with his 2006 single “We Fly High.” Now fresh off a multimillion-dollar deal with Columbia Records, Jones uses his past experience and influence to introduce a new collective, Byrdgang, with their debut, M.O.B.—The Album.
Made up of Jones, NOE, Mel Matrix, Sandman, Freekey Zekey and producer/rapper Chink Santana, Byrdgang deliver a brand of music that doesn’t differ much from the Diplomats’ hustlin’ ethos—but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Jim sets the tone on the chest-thumpin’ “I’m the Man,” romanticizing street life with lines like, “Make no error/We gettin’ money like the Reagan era.” Newcomer NOE then steps up to articulate his own rise to power on the telling “Hustle” (“I became a G without plannin’/I became a god without God understandin’”).
Showing no signs of remorse, Jim and company remain unapologetic, flaunting their dirty cash on the feel-good “Money Right” and the baller’s anthem “Splash.” A posthumous verse from Stack Bundles on “Only 17” provides further insight into the crew’s paper-by-any-means attitude, as he spits, “We don’t get breaks like two 15s and an hour/We sell two for 15 and push powder.” But the frantically paced “Throwin’ Bg’s” finds the Byrdgang rhyming with no real purpose over a poorly laid drum track, while the R&B interlude “Freakin You” just seems out of place among the disc’s gangstafied track list.
Notwithstanding minor infractions, Jimmy’s clique manages to serve up an impressive debut. Although M.O.B. doesn’t deliver any hits that rival Capo’s, its consistent street vibe will keep the Byrdgang flag flying high.–Thomas Harden