Sometimes when you’re pinned in a corner, drama coming from every angle, you are capable of amazing feats. In the case of hip-hop artists, that’s how some of the greatest albums are born. Philadelphia’s Beanie Sigel has been convicted of drug possession and is currently waiting to be re-tried for attempted murder. This isn’t a marketing ploy; this isn’t that reputation-enhancing bullshit typical to rap artists. With Jay-Z semi-retired and the Roc-a-Fella empire dismantled, this is Beanie’s moment to prove he can hold the weight. And prove it he does.
The B. Coming invokes the mid-’90s golden era, when hip-hop was a way of life and seemingly every artist dropped original classics. The album’s anchored by three tracks dripping in old-school flavor: “Bread & Butter,” “Gotta Have It” and “Feel It In the Air.” On “Bread & Butter” producer Just Blaze flips another banger that’s heavy on the keys and features an unexpected appearance by Brand Nubian’s Grand Puba. In the vein of Ghostface’s “Wildflower,” “Bread & Butter” is aimed at trifling females, generating such verbal darts like “Now I ain’t trying to degrade you/ but you was a lost little girl in your world, boo, I saved you / Your pop owed me a favor, I basically raised you.” With “Gotta Have It,” Beanie serves up an infectious track that hits to the bone gristle, assisted by hook man Peedi Crack and sixteen-bar master killer Twista. Producer Chad Hamilton gets his fingers dusty, digging up a beat that would have kept the Cotton Club in Harlem bumping into the night.
With Beanie possibly facing major time behind bars, he puts everything into “Feel It in the Air.” Supposedly recorded after Beanie attended a funeral of a close friend, the somber track paints a picture of a man boxed into utter hopelessness. Old-school party starter Heavy D returns from exile and produces a track that is the perfect backdrop for Beanie to open up his soul. Beanie lays down lyrics over Heavy D’s sax and Melissa’s haunting hook looped in the background: “I hear this voice in the back of my mind like, Mack tighten up ya circle/ Before they hurt you/ Read they body language/ Eighty-five percent communication non-verbal, eighty-five percent swear they know you/ Ten percent you know they story, man, the other five, time to show you.”