On their 1997 underground classic, The War Report, Capone-N-Noreaga gave the streets what the evening news didn’t: a pure, unadulterated look into ghetto America. Now, nearly a dozen years later, the Queens-bred rhyme animals return with their third album, Channel 10, an update of their original blueprint.
No longer focused solely on bloody money, the duo shows newfound depth on “The Argument,” where they vow to hold each other down despite their differences. Arguing about everything from Capone’s spending habits to Nore’s new workout plan, a peace agreement is finally reached when the Super Thug reminds his partner, “My first solo album, I set it up for our future/Check the credits, you were the executive producer.” It’s apparent chemistry isn’t a problem, as C-N-N display further cohesiveness on the celebratory “United We Stand,” and they nimbly bounce off each other on the sinister “Bring It Here.”
In other instances, Capone and Noreaga try to avoid the streets’ allure, as on the somber “My Life,” before exposing their mental and emotional scars over an eerie piano riff on the earnest “The Mirror.” The Queens soldiers’ musical magic only heightens when they call in reinforcements. DJ Premier leads the charge with his patented boom-bap on “Grand Royal,” then the Clipse, Tha Dogg Pound, Maino and Uncle Murda bring up the rear on the hard-hitting “My Hood.”
Not all the programming on Channel 10 is award-winning, however. “Talk to Me Big Time” is haunted by a dated beat, while “Addicted” is a played-out ode to C-N-N’s vices. “Stick Up” is an inventive tale about a robbery gone wrong but is ultimately hindered by a grating track. “Wobble Wobble” suffers a similar fate, as a less-than-desirable hook is coupled with Prodigy’s lackluster verse. While there is some static distortion, C-N-N remain commercial free with a disc that is sure to keep fans tuned in. —MEKA UDOH