What Went Right With… The 9 by Labba?

A review of Labba (Roger Edwards) album The 9

Brooklyn rapper Labba dropped his third album a couple of weeks back and it went without any fanfare despite it being a highly enjoyable listen. The LP is called The 9 and like the title suggests, it contains nine raw, hard-as-concrete joints by the often overlooked MC, whose vocal tone is on the same low level as The Notorious B.I.G. and Shyne, and whose entire discography is available to purchase at P.F. Cuttin’s Bandcamp site.

The album begins with “In The Room” (produced by Deve with scratches by DJ Conquista) and it contains Labba’s usual matter-of-fact flow and slightly restrained delivery against a Biggie sample (taken from “Three Bricks”)…

“Alert” is next and it contains a piano sample, a snare and hi-hat rhythm with reversed elements, and a very catchy hook (“The whole hood under investigation… And all we know is gang shit, gang shit”)…

“You Not Us” is a slow-tempo track with the humourous bridge “Allahu akbar, shall I send this bullet through his rasclaat?” and a few well-crafted near-rhymes: “Are you the son of a bastard? Your bitch didn’t suck your dick this morning when you ask her? What the fuck you mad for?”. The chorus is also very easy to repeat: “Nigga you not us, we young, black, and militant, Nigga you not us, we stay on our killing shit, Nigga you not us, American and immigrant, Nigga you not us, we stay so militant”.

Then it’s “One Shot Kill” and it features Artifacts’ El Da Sensei blessing the hook and Blahzay Blahzay‘s PF Cuttin’ produces this head-nodder… “One shot pop off, two second’s it’s on, with three strong vocals, the power make up this song”…

“Bocarotam” contains a staccato beat by Tsarbee, yet another catchy hook, this time with a Jamaican influence, and an impressive verse by Queens rap-legend Royal Flush. This song is one of my favourites…

“Give Them A Run” sports an ’80s-esque echoing synth over a heavy ’00s beat that makes use of a slow-pitched clap punctuating the end of the drum loop. There’s a sample of Busta Rhymes shouting “yo” which gives the song an unconventional chorus and Labba offers us some more of his nonchalant rhymes…

“Rise” is a more sedate and mellow track which is nevertheless head-nodding. Lines like “The world isn’t cold, it’s just the niggas that control it” makes this song unique and memorable not to mention introspective and personal. This is followed by “Fight In The Dancehall” which makes use of a Specials sample (“Ghost Town”) and the final Jazzy track is “Lyrical Pro” featuring Vic Spencer.

The standout tracks are “In The Room”, “Alert”, “One Shot”, “Bocarotam”, “Give Them A Run”, and “Rise”. The songs “Alert”, “One Shot”, “Bocarotam”, and “Give Them A Run” are so infectious that I’ve been playing them on repeat for over a week. These four tracks are classics in my opinion and the rest are highly re-playable.

It might seem like I’m coordinating the score on purpose but in this case, giving a 9-tracked album called “The 9” a “9” is appropriate and well deserved. Even though this LP ends relatively weakly in comparison to the strong start, the entire album flows very well from beginning to end without you wanting to skip any of the tracks. I’d have preferred the final song to be replaced by something more akin to tracks 2, 4, 5, or 6, but that being said, there’s not much wrong with this LP.

The 9 is a fantastic album that breaks-up the monotony of corny Hip-Pop being released by other rappers in recent months. Plus it’s quite unique to hear someone brag about immigrants when most of the media speaks ill of them. I also have to say that I concur with the album description: “The 9 is a socio/political manifesto for everyone from the immigrant turned gang member, the gun and drug trafficker, to the die-hard Hip-Hop head that has lost all hope due to the confines of a plastic, bubble gum music corporate take over run amuck”… Ha ha. Go and support an underground, independent artist and buy or stream The 9. However you cop it just remember to turn the volume knob all the way up… that’s one above 9.

A Definite 9.

Beats: 8/10

Rhymes: 8/10

Overall: 9/10

4 replies »

  1. How about “All My Heroes Are Dead” by R.A The Rugged Man… You could review that… It made my quarantine a bit more bearable…

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