In an age where west coast Hip Hop is quietly drifting away from the raw gangster image that put it on the map, Strong Arm Steady makes us feel like we’re back in the early nineties. Phil Da Agony, Mitchy Slick and Krondon give fans that traditional southern California flavor on their new album Arms & Hammers. The trio moves in a very different direction from their critically acclaimed album In Search Of Stoney Jackson, swapping innovative Madlib production in exchange for whip bumping beats by the likes of DJ Khalil and Nottz. Don’t expect to hear many of the underground MC’s that graced In Search Of Stoney Jackson (with the exception of “All The Brothers “ which features Planet Asia, Talib Kweli and KRS-ONE). Instead brace yourself for appearances by an army of west coast veterans such as Too $hort, Kurupt and The Game. Al though it is different from projects prior, Arms and Hammers is a solid effort by SAS that really pays homage to the roots of west coast rap, leaving listeners nostalgic reflecting on the days of The Chronic and the G Funk Era.
There’s something for everyone on Arms and Hammers. SAS gives listeners everything from quality conscious bars found in “All The Brothers” to songs that lack lyrical excellence but are definite bangers like “Trunk Music” and “Make Me Feel”. Some of the Albums best production comes courtesy of Blaqtoven on the tracks “Had Enough” and “Can’t Let It Go”. But the beat that is really captivating was the Terrace Martin produced “Blow My Horn”. This one really gives listeners that So-Cal funky feel with a modern twist., especially with Kurupt on the track. “Klack Or Get Klacked” Is an interesting song that deals with the issue of police brutality, a problem that Los Angels is quite familiar with. With lyrics like “Police shoot without proof/I ever answered the truth/My nigga reach for the registration, blew his brains to the roof/Has lead me to the conclusion that we should do the shooting/My itchy trigger finger niggers is a new resolution” its hard not to think of N.W.A.. After all, on the track “Had Enough” SAS refers to themselves as “The Worlds Most Dangerous Group” a title synonymous with N.W.A..
I had been craving quality west coast rap for a while now, and Arms & Hammers fills my appetite while I patiently wait for Detox to drop. The unique chemistry SAS had with Madlib on In Search Of Stoney Jackson is definitely missed. However, Arms & Hammers is an album that really puts on for their city and it exemplifies Strong Arm Steady’s range of diversity as a group and as a force to be reckoned with on the west coast scene.