Stic.man / Young Noble

Soldier 2 Soldier

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In early 2006, the political, sometimes militant, Dead Prez and the 2Pac-affiliated Outlawzcollaborated together for Can't Sell Dope Forever. The relationship between the two groups worked well enough that Dead Prez's Stic.man and the Outlawz's Young Noble decided to do a record together, and what resulted was Soldier 2 Soldier. The theme of war is prevalent throughout the album, which opens and closes with a "Soldiers Prayer," but it's directed towards the struggles in the U.S., as opposed to those abroad. Although it's generally Dead Prez who are associated with political rhymes, Young Noble shows that he's just as capable as Stic.man at delivering provocative lines, and the MCs sound good together, working well off one another. "Tryin' 2 Make a Livin" addresses the problems of the working poor, "Time" talks about the large number of black men in prison, and "Young Black and Just Don't Give A..." describes the black experience in America. These songs, which take a strong stance and aren't afraid of stating things clearly ("What if I came to your residence/Put you on a slave ship/Shipped you and your family to a whole 'nother continent/Then made you work for free?" they ask on "How U Like That?"), show off the talents and intelligence of the two MCs better than those tracks that stick to more standard topics. Yes, "Daddy Loves You" is sweet, but the idea of a father admitting his adoration of his children, while important, has been done many times before, as have the sentiments in "4 Life" (about love) and "Soul Music" (which reminisces about, well, soul music), and since Stic.man and Young Noble don't really add anything new to them, the songs are all kind of boring. The same can be said about the production on Soldier 2 Soldier, which often employs the typical drum-machine-and-synth combo that practically anyone with the right equipment can make, and often continues on for too long after all the rapping has ended. There are some pieces, fortunately (like the aforementioned "Tryin' 2 Make a Livin," which uses funky guitar picking, a nicely syncopated bass, and empty space to make a very interesting beat), that make the album more interesting and work nicely with the aggressive delivery of the rappers. It's nice to see two groups who don't necessarily run in the same circles working with one another, and although Soldier 2 Soldier isn't all great, there's enough on here to make it pretty interesting.

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