BootCamp.jpgFor better or worse, Boot Camp Clik is stuck in a time warp. In the minds of Buckshot, Smif-N-Wessun, Heltah Skeltah and O.G.C., hip-hop still revolves around the Big Apple and Laffy Taffy is nothing more than a chewy candy. This mid-’90s aesthetic explains the Brooklyn collective’s third disc, The Last Stand, which is lush with pounding production and dense similes. Sculpting an album around a bygone era would be disastrous for most artists, but for BCC it’s a welcome return to their roots.

The binding force behind the Clik’s “I love the ’90s” campaign is Rockness Monsta. The once-estranged member was completely absent on 2002’s The Chosen Few, but here Rock seamlessly reestablishes himself on the 9th Wonder-– produced “Here We Come” and the aggressive “Hate All You Want.” The crew’s rekindled chemistry is evident on the every-man-for-himself posse cut “Trading Places,” where each MC starts their verse with a notable line from the BCC catalog. Another standout is the Marco Polo–produced “He Gave His Life.” Supported by soulful reggae wails, Steele confesses, “The good die young/And from the hood I’m from/ That’s an understatement.”

Despite being more cohesive than their previous group efforts, The Last Stand still has flaws. There are few, if any, true line-for-line exchanges between Tek and Steele, and only one track scored by former in-house producers Da Beatminerz (“Game Is Still the Same”). Furthermore, O.G.C.’s presence goes virtually unnoticed as the more prominent members hog much of the mic time.

Relying on a niche sound throughout, the project is unlikely to garner much mainstream love. But group leader Buckshot understands that their quest for props is never ending. Over the muddy drums of “Let’s Go,” the BDI Thug spits, “Boot Camp Clik been on the front line blasting off/And hardly got props for it—I saw it/Even though we never got big, we never stopped short.” Even haters can’t front, you know they gotcha opin.—THOMAS GOLIANOPOULOS