Record label: BBE (UK)
Format: 2xLP/CD
Release date: 30 October 2001

Marley Marl was the man back in the day. He changed the way hip-hop was produced, sampling drum breaks for tracks and diggin’ in the crates. He was behind the boards for the Juice Crew All-Stars (Big Daddy Kane, Biz Markie, Roxanne Shante, MC Shan, etc.) and was responsible for one of my all-time favorite posse cuts, "The Symphony." But that was then and this is now. Marley is considerably older and has moved with the changes in the rap game, as many of the cuts on Re-Entry (the fourth installment of BBE’s Beat Generation series) will attest to.

As amped as I get about "Do U Remember" runnin’ though all the hits that Marley produced, it’s mainly to bring the younger listeners up to speed. After that, it’s present-day tactics. And unfortunately, this one should’ve been a mostly instrumental album like Pete Rock’s. Re-Entry suffers from the dope beats/wack rhymes dichotomy. "Spazz" flips Bob James’s "Mardi Gras" somethin’ lovely with quick punch-ins and those classic cowbells, but Solo’s verses are straight trash (what should I expect? He’s from a crew called Screwball). "Who’s Sicker" got that ghetto ass beat for the jeep and I halfway expected Mobb Deep to start spittin’, but no – I’m stuck listening to the Hemmingways. Ernest’s kin folk they ain’t. Then we have "Easy Type Shit" featuring Seven Shawn, an okay MC, but he slaughters a gorgeous jazzy track by attempting to sing over it. Just one problem, though – NIGGA CAN’T.

It ain’t all bad, though. Pete Rock’s younger sibling Grap Luva saves the day on "What Ruling Means" and you can always expect to be entertained by Kane – "Three’s Company" finds Big Daddy in a perpetual playa’s state of mind, this time trying to hook up a threesome ("I’m feelin’ Jack Trip about myself..."). Hands down pick of the album is "Hummin’", featuring a full band led by Mr. Roy Ayers on vocals and vibes, giving us a new perspective on a Cannonball Adderley joint. It’s so good that it almost doesn’t belong on this album. Outside of that are Marley’s ill instrumentals: the slick change-ups on "Live Ova Beats," the audio glitz of "NY, NY" or the slightly sinister feel of "Big Faces." When it comes to making beats, Marley’s still got it, but as many of the spitters on this album prove, if you ain’t got nothin’ to say, silence is golden. Platinum, even.

{vic feedle}

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