As the rap world began to heat up during the early 2000s with one battle after another -- Jay-Z versus Nas, 50 Cent versus Ja Rule, and so forth -- Columbia Records felt it was timely to sign DJ Kayslay, the loud-mouthed underground mixtape DJ known for instigating much of the rhetorical warfare. Over the years, Kayslay had disseminated innumerable bootleg mixes through the streets of New York (and, in turn, over the Internet), most of them featuring popular rappers freestyling over popular beats. Kayslay's major-label debut, The Streetsweeper, Vol. 1, is intended to replicate one of those mixes; in fact, it's even named after one of the so-called Drama King's better-known ones. It's not that simple, though. Columbia can't simply re-release the original Streetsweeper mix, for instance. Anything goes in the underground, but in the mass market, everything needs to be legal, which means performers and beats must be properly licensed (there's 60-plus of the former, 20 of the latter here). Well, everything here is properly licensed, which is impressive legally, yet what results is disappointing musically. At first glance, the lineup looks great on paper: Scarface, Raekwon, the Lox, 50 Cent, Mobb Deep, Nas, Foxy Brown, Cam'ron, Eminem, Noreaga, Busta Rhymes, Joe Buddens, Eightball, and so on. That's where the greatness ends, unfortunately. In general, the beats here are OK -- a few of them notably produced by EZ Elpee, the rest by a bunch of up-and-comers that sound like Just Blaze -- and the raps are passable though refreshingly spontaneous at times. However, the hooks are weak all around (sans the exceptional single, "Too Much for Me"), often little more than a looped vocal chant, if that, and the mixing is practically non-existent. And also, where's all the drama? Belligerent gun-talk gets dull quickly when you have this many wankstas trying to out-gangsta each other. In short, stick with Kayslay's more representative, edgier underground mixes; there's no drama here, just savvy marketing and diluted mass appeal.
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AllMusic Review by Jason Birchmeier
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