Clinton Sparks, Maybe You Been Brainwashed

Hua Hsu

By Hua Hsu

on 04.22.11 in Reviews
The king of the mixtape at his best

A trench-toughened DJ knows that most rappers only sound good for a bar or two. The Boston native and Eminem affiliate's self-produced debut is formatted like a mixtape, with a queue of rappers big, small and eh filing in and out for their 30 seconds of glory. Sparks 'production style reflects a lifetime spent rifling through crates. Busta Rhymes sounds even more boisterous than usual over the '80s-flavored head-smash "Get Down," and "Let it Go" finds N.O.R.E. and Nature dropping their thug coming-of-age tales over a sparse beat built on E.S.G.'s "U.F.O." The Clipse ("Where You Been") and Freeway ("Buck On Em," "State Prop Boyz") also shine, but it's the unheralded Kardinal Offishall who boasts the album's grimiest moment, "Hater Bug." Kardinal touts his island slang and shouts about Canal Street's "bootleg Dapper Dan" dealers over Sparks 'flu-riddled, "How I Could Just Kill a Man" sound-alike. A sign of Sparks 'rising influence: how many other DJs can get exclusives from Diddy?