Review ·

In the shadow of hip-hop legends Jay-Z and Notorious B.I.G., the Boot Camp Clik's contributions to Brooklyn and hip-hop have gone largely ignored. Most people might associate Brooklyn hip-hop with Hov and the rap Alfred Hitchcock, but the borough's definitive sound comes from Boot Camp's rugged, gritty, Caribbean-influenced rhythms. Under the leadership of Black Moon leader Buckshot, the Boot Camp Clik has made the transition from the early-nineties movement to a vaunted institution in underground hip-hop. But the aptly titled Chemistry, Buckshot's latest effort with 9th Wonder of Little Brother, is a classic example of the old meeting the new.

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Chemistry (which is flanked by two other releases -- Sean Price's Monkey Barz on May 31 and Tek & Steele's Smif 'n' Wessun: Reloaded later this summer -- in what Duck Down's calling a "triple threat") reaffirms Buckshot's legacy and further builds 9th Wonder's reputation as a certified hit-maker. If ever there were an emcee who could be called a natural, it is Buckshot. More than six years removed from his previous solo project, 1998's The BDI Thug, and two years from the previous Black Moon project, Total Eclipse, Buck grabs the mike with a hunger and enthusiasm that most hip-hop veterans lack.

Speaking to the young guns, Buckshot flips a classic Beatminerz-esque group chorus on "Now a Days," spitting "They don't use fists now, they rather use clips/ On the street now all I see is this/ Everybody got something to bust/ But if you're real then will knuckle up/ (That's what's up)." On "The Ghetto," 9th concocts a beat that sounds like a lost track off Black Moon's classic 1993 debut, Enta da Stage, digging up a sample ("How do you make your bread in the ghetto/ Raped from the souls of the dead in the ghetto") that powerfully drives the track home. Some may criticize 9th's use of Fruity Loops and his repetitive drum patterns, but as Jean Grae said, "9th got them beats you just sing to for no reason."

Chemistry not only highlights the shared vibe between Buck and 9th but also between the Boot Camp Clik (which also includes Originoo Gunn Clapaz, Cocoa Brovaz, Heltah Skeltah, Bucktown Juveniles, Jahdan and Illa Noyz) and the Justus League. Guest appearances from the Justus League's Joe Scudda and Phonte and Rapper Big Pooh of Little Brother prove the North Carolina-to-Brooklyn connection extends beyond Buckshot and 9th Wonder. But in the end it's all about the mutual respect and love of hip-hop that brought together this seminal producer and emcee for two weeks in the studio.

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