Big Shug

Streetchamp

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    7
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After years of adding verses to DJ Premier and Guru's Gang Starr, Big Shug set out releasing his own music, first with 2005's Who's Hard, and followed two years later, as part of the increasingly impressive roster on New York's Babygrande Records, by Streetchamp. As with his debut, Shug gets Primo to show off his skills on a few tracks (the warm, scratch-friendly "It Just Don't Stop," "Play It," and the bass-laden "Streets Move"), but most of the beats are done by a very able MoSS, the Canadian producer who's also worked with Ghostface (whose delivery style Shug's resembles) and AZ, among others; they're drum-heavy and clean but still very melodic, like something will.i.am might do on one of his less creative or quirky days, and fit Big Shug's rough-edged voice well. The rapper himself generates a decent set of rhymes, focusing mostly on how his skills greatly outweigh those of his competitors (a claim that isn't always substantiated -- it's not enough to just say you're better, your bars have to show that, and as great as the line "you's a coward/A silly duck like Howard" is, it may not be enough to prove verbal domination), but also treading on life in the ghetto ("Hood Like That," "What U Gonna Do"), the troubles of raising a family ("Lost"), and making money ("Legbreakers"). There's enough variability in his themes that his continual boasting and dissing of other rappers doesn't come across as excessive or boring, and though Streetchamp might not be quite the album Big Shug declares it to be -- and doesn't compare to Hard to Earn -- it's a consistent, often clever, set of rhymes set against solid beats, which is more than a lot of other rappers have been able to offer, and presents Shug as a force to be reckoned with.

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