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REVIEW: Maino, If Tomorrow Comes

The Jump Off
Maino
If Tomorrow Ever Comes…
(Atlantic)

This wasn’t meant to be for Jermaine “Maino” Coleman. The fact that the Bed-Stuy product is finally releasing his debut, If Tomorrow Comes…, in the face of major uncertainty (coming off of a 10-year bid in 2003, splitting from Universal Records, and seeing countless label release dates pushed back) is an achievement in itself. So it’s only right that Mr. Hi Hater celebrates his success on wax.

The festivities kick off with the raucous “Million Bucks,” featuring Swizz Beatz. The frantic, fun-loving track—thanks to the steel-pan knock, Coke-bottle clanks and the beefed up bass of Swizzy’s production—prompts the Hustle Hard General to show his gratitude, spittin’, “My enemies in here, they goin’ away/I feel good, everything is okay/Feel like givin’ all my money away.” And this won’t be the last fans hear of Maino’s euphoria, as songs like the album-closing “Celebrate,” the breezy but utterly formulaic “Hood Love,” featuring R&B crooner Trey Songz, and the Just Blaze–helmed “All the Above,” with T-Pain, display the rapper’s appreciation for his current position, as well as for his previous hard-knock life.

Don’t think If Tomorrow Comes… is all popped Champagne, though. The album narrates Coleman’s journey from inmate No. 92A5456 to Atlantic Records signee—documented through the five skits (which reenact key moments in Maino’s life-changing ride) peppered throughout the album. Then there are the joints where the rapper paints pictures of his struggle to the top, like the telling “Back to Life” and the B.G.-assisted “Gangsta,” where the Brooklyn bully recalls his introduction to the streets: “Since papa died, I was staring eye to eye/With them gangstas, boss niggas you idolize/I was young and wild, cuttin’ class, wasting time/’Til my nigga introduced me to that other side.”

But for all the good—like the ode to domestic violence, “Kill You”—there are many empty moments as well, and most of them are due to Maino’s incapability as a lyricist. He does his best, but the muted bass and banging production of J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League’s “Here Comes Trouble” can’t save lackluster rhymes like, “I ain’t got rap friends, all my homies are in jail/Been in black Benz, gettin’ drunk as hell.” The same problem plagues the block-inspired “Soldier” and the token heartfelt track, “Floating,” despite dope production from newcomer Mush Millions and Charlemagne, respectively. There are some very familiar moves, as well, when Maino rehashes past hip-hop moments. Joe Budden fans will recognize “Runaway Slave,” which boldly uses the exact same beat as Jumpoff’s “Pray for Me,” off his Padded Room album—not to mention that the rhyme style Maino uses is a swagger jack from Beanie Sigel’s “Die,” off The Truth. The disc’s lowest point comes on the slow and sensual “Let’s Make a Movie.” On the cut, Maino displays a forced sexuality delivering limp lines like “We could have sex in HD digital/It ain’t really difficult, let me see your nipples, boo.”

It’d be a crime for the album not to include Maino’s most popular single, “Hi Hater,” but after circulating for over a year, the anthemic, hand-waving cut comes off a bit dated.

Nevertheless, to understand If Tomorrow Comes… is to understand Maino’s mind-set through all the ups and downs. The tumultuous rapper has seemingly overcome all of his troubles and traded in Brooklyn bricks for greener pastures. As poetic as it all sounds, the album’s glaring missteps prevent his first go-round from being the solid overall effort it should be. Still, there is some promise shown. Maino paraphrases the album’s theme on “Celebrate,” as he passionately spits, “Look how lucky I am, I could’ve been dead/Could’ve been gone, I guess I am blessed.” Now raise your glasses. —Sean A. Malcolm

  • MTKilla The King

    Real Talk i agree i heard this niggas album listened to all the tracks every one of them, and he has to many nursery rhymes for me to bump to and lyrically as i said before this nigga just ain’t it and i will not lie he had some descent shit on there but personally this album is dead to my ears. He deserves the L rating..time to get back to brooklyn and sell some more bricks cause this rap shit ain’t for you nigga!..lol

    WTF? though XXL ya’ll rated hurricane chris shit XL and Maino album was way better then that wack ass little nigga!. Sometimes ya’ll suck at reviews!

    • J Ceasar

      Nah and hell nah! This album deserves the L rating, but not because its a bad album, just because it took entirelt too long to drop. Noboby really checking for Maino no more. Personally, I thought Hurricane Chris album was better, maybe not a XL, if it gets an L, Maino get a M. Think about it.

    • joe p

      well we all know we cant take this rating seriously lol for Christ sake flo-rida got a L lmao … i have not heard anything from him since hi haters … i dont think i can take him serious after that …. idk maybe ill take a listen

  • dfarewell

    First!!
    I gotta say this album is hard. 1 of my favs this summer, great story and the interludes are tough. dude is right though, his problem is that he aint that great of a rhymer. other then that its a bomb album. nice beats all the way through and he expresses his feelings well. maino just needs to step up his spit game and he’d have a banger.

  • dfarewell

    Damn lol! dude beat me to first. guess i gotta try again tomorrow…

  • gkid12345

    I think this album deserves a XL in my opinion but it seems like the media and everywhere only want to keep south music hot and down all the music coming from the east coast

  • that nigga

    I dont like dude but I kinda liked the album. It was waaay better than I expected. Hurricane Chris a XL???

  • niggafrommemphis

    i ain’t feelin dude and @gkid,it doesn’t matter if a muthafucka is from the north pole,if they tight,they tight.this shit is goin sour evrywhere,not just in the east

  • Honestasicanb

    This mag will catch hell for that Hurricane Chris rating. I could understand the notion that Maino and Hurricanes album came out at different times so thats why there is a rating differences but hell they gave Chamillionaire’s Ultimate Victory an L while giving Hurricane Chris an XL. Now there goes that bullshit. Why the hell do we read these reviews?

  • btaznpride

    cosign with Honestasicanb, that’s messed up giving Cham an L for Ultimate Victory and then Hurricane a XL for 51/50 Ratchet. As for this album, I copped it. It’s not bad, Maino’s not one of my favorite emcees or anything, but its a decent record. It’s got a few joints worth checking, he’s gotta step up the lyrics, but the production is pretty solid and the storyline is pretty good. Nobody supporting music anymore, especially rappers, so for 7.99, it was worth supportin dude.

  • Endy V

    It defiinitly desserved and XL the truth is that it does have a lot of diversity and idk about keepin the south hot because it is pretty well known by every hip-hop fan that soulja boy’s and flo rida’s are terrible I don’t see why anybody would say it’s a L it aint

  • RD

    not a bad debut, but not a good one either, Maino seriously lacks lyrics to be an east coast rapper, Since it was from new york I had high expectations but i was pretty dissapointed on it maino should have more lyrical punch in his next album there’s no excuse not to