These days, the word “classic” is thrown around as loosely as a Nerf ball at a picnic. However, we at TRU consider classics to be something which stand the test of time and have a resounding influence on their respective fields. But how do albums considered classics sound to the ears of TRU’s young blood? Aaron J. McKrell was born in 1990 and we’ve convinced him to turn his scope on a classic from the rich history of hip-hop to view it through a contemporary lens in the second iteration of our ‘Classics Revisited’ series: Back To The Classics
The War Report is the penultimate installment of Back to the Classics. That’s right: After this, there’s only one more. Anyways, I gave Capone-N-Noreaga’s debut a spin. Here’s what I thought:
Remember when I said that Black Moon’s Enta Da Stage was lyrically and musically strong, but failed to stand out from the pack of ’90s crime rap? Well, The War Report had me feeling the same way. Save “Capone ‘N’ Noreaga Live (Interlude),” every track on the album is strong. Capone and Noreaga are skilled rhyme slingers and paint a dope picture. The production is well-done and very East Coast. All good things.
But there is nothing that sticks out here, save the Iraq-gangsta lifestyle comparisons. The rhymes are nothing that I haven’t heard before, most notably from Nas and Mobb Deep. The production is a little more extravagant than Mobb Deep’s creeping minimalism, but again, extravagant New York production is nothing I haven’t heard before (see: Wu-Tang Clan). And some of is dang near identical to NY rap before it (“Halfway Thugs,” really?).
This would be more forgiveable if the album wasn’t so long. At 20 tracks, the been-there-heard-that feel I had after track three becomes they’re-beating-a-dead-horse-with-the-mic around track 15.
For nineties heads, I’m sure this was a very enjoyable album when it was released, and probably is still enjoyable for them today. But if we’re talking albums that stand the test of time, The War Report is stale because it pales in comparison to the Illmatics and The Infamouses of 90s New York crime rap.