When it comes to Hip-Hop, the Bay Area has given the culture some of the most colorful characters around. The birthplace of the Hyphy movement can take credit for artists like E-40, The Pack, The Federation, and the king of Hyphy himself, Keak Da Sneak.
Not your average MC, the Oakland native is clearly an acquired taste. But with his newest release, Welcome To Scokland, swallowing his gravel-pitched voice and sometimes-unidentifiable lyrics should come a lot easier, because the project is joint venture between him and neighboring MC, San Quinn.
For every off-beat bar dropped by Keak, San Quinn is there to bat clean up, starting with the title track, ‘Welcome To Scokland.’ After the duo formally introduce themselves, the funk-filled ‘Blue Dolphin’ is next on the menu.
Keak opens things up with lines like, “Walk with a limp/you would swear I had a plastic knee/rubber bands and stacks”; while San Quinn manages to make more sense with his go-around, “We was poppin’ our collars, grabbin’ our shirts/throwin’ up sets, lookin’ out for dirt/on some chloride sh*t, like the board of health.”
‘She Fine’ is an ode to the ladies, with both MC’s telling their boy-meets-girl tale all behind a deceptively catchy hook. The album’s best song by far is ‘C.A.S.H.’ Taking a page out of Wu-Tang’s book, they break down money into an acronym, with a voice sample of adlib man supreme Fat Man Scoop echoing the same sentiments in the background.
From there, they slow things down a bit with ‘Streets Don’t Lie,’ with both of them backing up that statement via cold hard evidence. The rest of the 19-tracked album includes sure shots like ‘Cannons On The Block,’ ‘We Can Bubble Up,’ ‘Da Hood In Me,’ and ‘On One’; with miss fires coming on ‘Comfortably Numb,’ ‘Marinated Game Profane Slang,’ ‘Hollarin,’’ and the uncreative sounds of ‘Copy Cat.’
Like mentioned earlier, for those who think Keak’s vocals and rhyme pattern might wear them down, San Quinn is definitely the Ying to his Yang. One of the only downsides to the project is its length. With 19 songs, it can be a little difficult to keep your attention focused on the entire album, and the skip button might come into play more than usual.
Welcome To Scokland could have easily been divided into two separates records, with the second half being released at a later date—but that’s probably not how they do it out there in the Bay.