Various Artists

    Soul Supreme Compilation: The Saturday Night Agenda


    In the offseason following the 2001 season, the New York Mets decided that changes needed to be made. After missing out on signing Alex Rodriguez — arguably the best offensive shortstop of all time — during the previous winter, General Manager Steve Phillips was encouraged to spend some money. Phillips responded by adding future Hall of Famer Roberto Alomar, sluggers Mo Vaughn and Jeromy Burnitz, speedster Roger Cedeno, and serviceable hurlers Pedro Astacio and Jeff D’Amico. The 2001 version of the Mets won 82 games; fans were itching to find out what the supercharged 2002 team could accomplish. The 2002 Mets won 75 games that season, bad enough for last place in the National League East. Soul Supreme’s The Saturday Night Agenda suffers from a similar affliction: good on paper, but a little weak in practice.


    With heavy hitters like KRS-One, Big Daddy Kane and Pete Rock on the roster, one would expect greater results than TSNA delivers. While the album does boast some solid line drives, Supreme and his boys seem to lack team chemistry while dispensing tracks that are largely indistinguishable.

    The bright side is that the various emcees that lend their rhymes to TSNA have got skills. A.G. adds some of his best work since his early ’90s stuff with longtime-collaborator Showbiz, and L Da Headtoucha rips up the jazzy “All in Together,” possibly the strongest song here. Big Daddy Kane narrowly escapes an appearance on the second season of “The Surreal Life” with an amazing verse on “Come Get Some”: “The first nigga that flinches get caught in the clinches / and feel the death sentence / Relentless / I’m trying to fuckin’ end this / Now take an interest.”

    Unfortunately, KRS-One’s performance here elicits little more than a “meh,” and that is a damn shame. He teams up with Shuman on “The Message” for an instantly catchy but successively irritating track that dies by its “fuck with that” lyrical gimmick. When KRS-One fails to come through, you’re in trouble. The hole gets deeper as Shuman’s “Security” retreads the same ground Gang Starr’s “Suckas Need Bodyguards” covered nine years ago.

    The beats on TSNA are solid, but they rarely stand out on their own. The bouncy beat of “Future Flavas” sounds like a winner until you realize why: it’s almost identical to Dilated People’s “Worst Comes to Worst.” The beats rarely have more than one idea and are ridden until they are interrupted by the Blaxploitation film samples that attempt to lend continuity to the album.

    And that’s one of the more troubling aspects of the album: there is no common thread that holds it together. Getting a peep at a variety of lesser-known rappers isn’t a bad thing, but the abundance of ho-hum beats detracts from any appeal that the album could have possessed. It feels like it was slapped together randomly at the last minute, which keeps it from standing out among the rapidly growing indie hip-hop masses. But at least they spare us the pain of watching Jeromy Burnitz batting .215.