Shield Gang? Isn’t that what Rick Ross was gonna name his click before deciding on Carol City Cartel? LOL. I kid, I kid. I don’t want dude trying to DJ Vlad me or something, na’mean. It’s crazy how rappers like Young Jeezy and T.I. got the streets of NYC on smash more than any NY rapper right now. But it’s obvious why. Their music speaks for itself. As successful as they’ve been thus far, they’re still creating the same brand of hip-hop that’s brought them success instead of experimenting with mainstream formulas in hopes of broadening their audience.

It’s no secret that Jeezy is able to motivate thugs to get on their grind with his music, and he continues to crank out that 101 inspiration with joints like “Bang Bang” and “Blame It Remix” spittin’ ish like, “Rap is my trap, nigga this is my house/no hatin’ ass niggas throw bricks at my house/y’all niggas ain’t workin, y’all stay on that hoe sh*t/me, I stay working, I stay on that boss sh*t/message for you lil niggas tryin’ to play me/tell ‘em Rockband 2, ya better off playin’ Wii!”

But as dope as his songs are, this isn’t a Jeezy mixtape. This is a CTE project. Slick Pulla, Blood Raw, Bama and Roccett are present to continue the movement that Jeezy jump-started. Slick Pulla has his moments when he sounds like a watered down Beanie Sigel. And I don’t mean his G is watered down, I mean his lyrics and style is. “Is It All Worth It” had potential and could’ve allowed Slick to showcase his jewels on the struggle, but what he dropped instead was simple rhymes like “The soundtrack to my life/a strange husband/the streets is my f*ckin’ wife/I seen it all/no complaints, no f*ckin’ gripes/a young general, I did my thing for the stripes.” Good for him he sounded much better and more focused on “Get Money.”

Speaking of which, Roccett (who was also on “Get Money”) got a fresh style, laid back flow and cool demeanor to go along with witty lines like “You got a problem, you can give me the snub/and the groupies give Lewinsky love,” on “In These Streets.” After all these years it’s good to see someone in the hood paid some attention to Clinton’s reign in office.

Now Blood Raw’s joint with Jagged Edge, “Take U Out The Ghetto,” was not a good look for the rapper. I say that simply because a dude who’s as aggressive as he is on the mic shouldn’t be rapping about taking a female anywhere. It has “The First 48” written all over it. I was feelin’ Boo’s “I Just Lost My Nigga.” It was like a more intense and harder version of D.R.S.’s “Gangsta Lean.” Dude talking about “I just lost my nigga/they just killed my nigga/I really miss my nigga/it’s hurting inside/I ain’t gonna let that ride.” There’s a 50/50 chance this song will be playing before, after or even during some kind of retaliation. That’s all I’m saying.

This group effort is definitely that, a group effort and in the end it paid off. If anything, there was something for every kind of hip-hop fan here. From Roccett’s straight MC steez to Boo’s singish but not actually singing style Everybody had their own style and didn’t lean on someone else to either save the song or save this mixtape (i.e. Jeezy). Everyone went out and did what they could at the best of their ability and the result was a lot of bangers and a few duds. Will The Shield be the south’s answer to Wu-Tang or N.W.A.? Hmmm, maybe I shouldn’t get ahead of myself here…The Infamous O

Hottest Joint: “This Is The Shield”

Weakest Joint: “Take U Out The Ghetto”