Juelz Santana proved he was what the game was missing in 2005, his last released Def Jam solo album. However, after crowning the last chapter in his Back Like Cooked Crack mixtape series in 2006, the Harlem Diplomat found himself in abeyance—thanks to a streak of broken promises and record label purgatory. Now on a much fresher start than last, Juelz is finally ready to recapture that spot he left vacant in the city he once dubbed “Santana’s Town.”
God Will’n, his latest mixtape, finds the Skull Gang capo in great shape—it’s like he never left. “Don’t call it a comeback, fuck it, call it a comeback and this right here is the grudge match,” he pelts mid-verse on the fitting opener “Sho Nuff.” “Muhammad Ali with the jabs, these niggas throwing love taps/Guess I gotta scare niggas to get my buzz back.” Showcasing the same charisma and ballsy shrewdness that’s been an anchor to many of his past on-record appearances, Santana comes out gunning on the mic—especially on tracks like the rollicking “Nobody’s Safe” (produced by Jahlil Beats), grimey “Bad Guy” (with Jadakiss) and the catching “Black Out” (with Lil Wayne). Fans hoping for an I Can’t Feel My Face-esque tag-team on the latter won’t find the same luster exhibited on past collabos but, it still offers enough replay value.
He shows his sass on the star-studded “Soft” (with Rick Ross, Meek Mill, Fabolous) and boasts his splendor on the brooding “Everything Good” (with Wiz Khalifa) but nothing compares to when ’Elz bares his heart on both “My Will” and “Nobody Knows.” The latter features go-to crooner-and-rapper Future, who provides the perfect wailing hook for Santana’s moment of clarity. “They don’t understand that boss life/Gotta take care of my whole crew…If I gotta be the one to lift us up, I won’t let ’em down/Sorry I delayed us, but we gon’ get this paper.”
All in all, God Will’n exhibits everything that a Dipset diehard expects from the Uptown rhymester, but that can also be bittersweet. Although it’s clear that he hasn’t lost a step, Juelz doesn’t offer anything new or refreshing to the table. Not that such a thing is always expected from a “comeback” project, but there are times during this ’tape where the money, cash and “I’m flyer than…” subject matter become stale. Even the punchlines, don’t pack the same thump as prior. There’s several points where he’ll finish these lines with “get it,” and you could’ve already deciphered the “joke.” “Another day another blessing, pockets fat, life’s Precious/Get it, pockets fat life’s Precious,” Santana spews on “My Will.”
Regardless though, God Will’n finds Juelz swiftly picking up where he left off and delivering a well-rounded comeback effort in the process. “Santana’s back in business, now let’s get reacquainted…”—Ralph Bristout (@RalphieBlackmon)