Maino made headlines late last year as a result of his well-publicized feud with Atlanta based rapper Trinidad Jame$, who said “We (Atlanta) run y’all musically,” at a concert in Brooklyn. Maino took exception to Jame$’s comments, with the tension culminating in a recorded phone conversation between the two rappers, which was actually more Maino yelling at Jame$ as opposed to an actual conversation. Maino wanted Jame$, and everyone else to realize, that New York rappers such as himself do not appreciate the notion that the city no longer has viable commercial artists that stick to the “New York Blueprint”: Gritty, mostly sample based production, along with no-nonsense bars and street tales. And with the release of K.O.B, it seems that Maino has directed his frustration towards the creation of a nearly perfect New York project.
The EP starts out with “Niggas That Love Me”, a track laced with a Lex Luger style of production that has made Atlanta rappers such as Waka Flocka Flame and Gucci Mane household names. Next comes “Plottin’”, a song which features Maino and fellow BK wordsmith Uncle Murda rapping about street tales over dark, trunk-rattling production with a howling hook. As the mixtape continues, it becomes apparent that Maino has a distinct formula that he wants to stick to—the aforementioned “New York Blueprint” that has made many New York rappers before him successful.
The production on the album delivers a goody bag of beat styles, ranging from classic sample-based beats with a new school twist (“Lights, Camera, Action”) to trap leanings (“Niggas That Love Me”). Despite the ranging styles of production on the mixtape, the overall theme is proving why he holds the self-proclaimed “King Of Brooklyn” title. Because of this theme, all the songs flow together smoothly that makes for a cohesive project.
The guest features on the album are a strong point. Maino’s decision to keep a mainly New York centric guest list, add to the “New York” feel of the project. Maino’s mission is to showcase the talent in The Big Apple, and there’s plenty to choose from. Whether it be Troy Ave’s catchy hook on the undeniable club banger “Lights, Camera Action,” Raekwon’s gravelly voice rapping over a boom-bap beat for the bonus track “Beat That” or Jadakiss’ standout rhymes on “What Happened To my City,” the King Of Brooklyn bridges the gap between old and new school.
The beauty of K.O.B lies in the fact that Maino doesn’t compromise the authenticity in his rhymes; an authenticity which has endeared him to many hip-hop listeners over the years, in order to create a viable project. The veteran lyricist could have easily made a tape full of feel-good party tracks, but he proved James’ comments about NY false by sticking to his script. Throughout K.O.B., Maino went for quality over quantity, as his loyal fan base are treated to solid raps bout his proclivities as a gangster. And finally, and perhaps most importantly, Maino shows us that you can have your cake, and eat it too; you can make a project for “the streets,” appeasing the hip-hop traditionalists, all while making bangers for the radio and for the club. It is clear to see that Maino has delivered a project fit for a king. – Marvin J.