Da Beatminerz, one of the premier production teams of '90s underground hip-hop, provided much of the sonic framework for such Boot Camp Clik classics as Enta Da Stage by Black Moon in 1992 and Dah Shinin' by Smif-N-Wessun in 1994. The five-member team consists of Mr. Walt, Rich Blak, Baby Paul, Chocolate Ty, and resident Black Moon and New York Hot 97 DJ Evil Dee. Though they continued to work with other Boot Camp artists such as Heltah Skeltah and O.G.C., the crew mostly took a back seat in the late '90s, until Black Moon's long-awaited sophomore release, War Zone, dropped in early 1999. As previously evidenced on War Zone, on Brace their signature sound of heavy drum kick drops and sparse, crackling snares seems to have been transformed into a more muddy-sounding style. Once trendsetters themselves, Da Minerz take a couple of cues from others in the production field, including Ruff Ryders' producers Swizz Beats and Irv Gotti and Dirty South producers like Timbaland and the Neptunes. However, the beats on the album do have a decidedly East Coast spin, and many top-name Atlantic Coast artists come along for the ride. The Flip Mode Squad, complete with Busta Rhymes and Rah Digga in tow, get down-and-dirty on the streaky "Take That," and rap veterans Naughty by Nature weigh in on "Thug Love." But the more subtle cuts are the strength of this project, Talib Kweli and Total's "Anti-Love Movement" and "Open" by Pete Rock and former Soul II Soul lead singer Caron Wheeler are definitely on the mark. The final two cuts bring in some theme with "Let's Talk About It," a memorial to fallen rappers, and the scintillating "Ghetto 2 Ghetto," with a sample from the intro to Nas' Illmatic album. The album employs some gifted MCs and all in all demonstrates this production team still has a few stunners in the old trick bag.
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AllMusic Review by M.F. DiBella
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