New York rap duo release long-awaited sequel to their 1990s landmark.
Sam Hesketh 2010-10-29
Waiting over a decade for a sequel to a seminal album is a risk that most artists refuse to take for fear of falling foul of Chinese Democracy Syndrome. Yet in the wake of Raekwon's 2009 sequel to his landmark Only Built for Cuban Linx, which won over many sceptics, more and more artists are peeking round the corner, waving their own personal part twos and hoping for the best.
The War Report, released in July 1997, was seen by many as marking the return of hardcore rap to the East Coast, containing as it did tales of real street-level crime and drug pushing. Arguably it pointed the way for the next wave of gangster rappers, who saturated the charts in the late 90s and early 2000s. Thirteen years is a long time to wait for a follow-up, however, and though there have been other CNN long-players, Report the War is the record that fans were always hoping would see the light of day. The pressure, most definitely, has been on the duo. But they’ve responded in admirable fashion.
Pain, featuring a beat by ever dependable Alchemist consisting of slow, booming drums, sets the blueprint for the album: no remorse in the lyrics, and pounding rhythms demanding that the listener pays attention. The calibre of guests appearing on the album doesn't harm the overall feel of the record either, with Raekwon lacing his revered drawl over Dutches v Phillies v Bamboo, The Oath (also featuring a strong Busta Rhymes verse) and The Reserves, one of the standouts thanks to the short, sharp melodies slapped over the drums.
An appearance from Faith Evans on Hood Pride serves to enhance the gravelly tones of her male counterparts. The opposite is true of the Avery Storm-guested The Corner, though, which stands out like a sore thumb as the singer lends his sub-standard Justin Timberlake vocals to proceedings, producing cringing of the highest order.
The beats might sound like they were made in the mid-90s, but whilst for most albums this would be seen as detrimental it works positively for CNN. While it won't set the world alight in 2010, The War Report 2 elevates them to the level they were at way back in the day. They should certainly be applauded for sticking to their guns and making the album their long-term fans have been craving for some time.