Beanie Sigel – the name rings bells with hip-hop heads and even mainstream listeners, but since the association with Jay-Z’s Roc-A-Fella Records has diminished many have failed to give the self-proclaimed Truth the time of day. Such was evident from Sigel’s 2007 release The Solution which rarely garnered radio play, a problem Sigel has since addressed as due to lack of promotion. Bean’s latest release The Broad Street Bully shows Sigel branching out into independent territory, no longer relying on big name producers or associations with larger artists to craft this project.
Beans introduces the album by suggesting this is a compilation of lost files, as he exclaims he’s bringing back that real “street hip hop shit!” The album kicks off with “Why Wouldn’t I” which displays Beanie’s flow, although he doesn’t say anything too impressive. The sound is definitely grimy and he actually sounds a lot like Sheek Louch. Yet this is one of the least impressive tracks on the album and I didn’t think Beanie really brought anything to the table on this (“I don’t understand why you dicks wanna hold cock, you might as well suck it”) [that sounded awkward].
I know I listen to too much underground Hip Hop because I immediately recognized “Tear Drops” sample as the same one from the Army of the Pharaohs “Black Christmas.” Bean’s drops some dope lines on this (“spit fire like Lu Kang/you’ll be found in a desert like Hussein”) and the track incorporates some nice scratches that utilize a grimy East Coast sample sound with some southern head-nod drums. The track is followed by the posse cut “Where’s My Opponent” featuring Omilio Sparks and Freeway that’s nothing special and suffers from lackluster production, but Beanie definitely shines above the rest of the crew with lines like “I don’t do this for show/ I do this for sho.”
The next track, “Ready for War [click here to listen]“ has better production, but is basically the same deal – nothing special from the guest appearances. When you’re going to make a track like this, it’s essential to bring on the lyrical arsenal and drop some punchlines instead of trying to rely on swag which is definitely a problem for Young Chris. Freeway is so gutter on this – that’s the only way to describe his style. Beans standouts again on this track in terms of lyrics (“gun powder burn n*ggas heads like perms/ forever rest in the dirt like worms…don’t make sense don’t make dollas/ that’s like a bitch that suck dick and don’t swallow”)
“All for It [click here to listen]“ is easily the best track on the album. This joint has tight production that’s reminiscent of 2pac, and what’s even more interesting is Beans embodies Ice Cube on this joint. More so than any track on this album, Beanie possesses an incredible stage presence that forces the listener to pay attention to his lyrics coupled with some ridiculous punchlines (“Open up your chest like Vic’s Vapor”).
Freeway makes his third appearance on the LP and proves to be “Sicker Than Your Average [click here to listen]” radio cat (Way sicker than the psych ward/ rock the show with the lights off, snap and choke a n*gga with a mic chrod”), while
Beanie again outshines his guest which is hard to find these days where labels pair up average mcs with big names in an attempt to gain sales. Beanie rips it from the start by spitting “my gun’s drawn like artwork/ Superman was Clark first/ so heroes end up like Chris Reeves/ fucking with Beans“)
The next offering, “Run the Roc” featuring Omilio Sparks and Young Chris uses a reggae sample to differentiate itself from previous instrumentals used on The Broad Street Bully. Omilio and Young Chris return to deliver verses to backup their former label-mate; definitely another standout track that shouldn’t be slept on. The track “Bang Bang” featuring Murda Mill seems out of place on this release as it utilizes a sample that seems handcrafted for UGK more so than the Philly native. Not necessarily bad but easily passable due to the cliché chorus.
On “You Over Did It” featuring Young Chris & Murda Mill, Beanie murks it with some hard delivery that would make Scarface smile. Young Chris who litters the album with verses redeems himself from the mediocrity he produced on “Return of the Chain Gang” by holding his own, while Murda Mill brags about how his “coke’s swellin.” Overall a solid song that benefits from the dramatic piano sample that incorporates an electric guitar riff. The album closes with “The Ghetto [click here to listen].” From the moment the beat drops, it’s obvious that Beanie’s going to deliver some deep thoughts and he doesn’t disappoint. This was a great way to wrap up the album by creating a thought provoking message, while displaying Bean’s ability to stay on topic.
Although Sigel managed to create an album that has a handful of stellar songs, there are some forgettable guest appearances along with production that’s sometimes on the weak side. Regardless, this album should be well received by longtime Sigel followers and should also be embraced by first time listeners. Some critics may argue that Beanie never reached his full potential as his legal battles were setbacks and his label stint was accompanied by a glass ceiling that left him at a disadvantage; however The Broad Street Bully serves as a reminder to listeners that Beanie has one of the more powerful voices in the game and he should not fall on deaf ears.