40 Cal.

Broken Safety 2

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The battle-rhyme king of the Dipset crew, 40 Cal always shines on mixtapes. He feeds off the hypeman energy and the relaxed rules that are both so important to the format by aggressively spitting his unusual metaphors with no filter and no shame when they're shameful. The good news is his debut for Koch began life as an underground mixtape, and then turned into an aboveground album once the label heard some possible hits. Broken Safety 2 didn't make the transition as smoothly as one would hope, since there's a disjointed feel to this full-length, but tracks like club banger "The Big Boys" with its sexy Jha Jha chorus and the ultra smooth "Hi-Road" have the hooks and enough radio-friendly polish that they deserve to be high-profile. Raw, uncompromising numbers like "40 Cals" or "New Anthem" expose the album's mixtape roots with loud loops and 40's unrelenting stream-of-rhymes, along with enough smart wordplay to make them preferable to fans of his battle rapping. The less appealing outcome of this mixtape birth is the short list of producers involved, with Doe Boy and the Bangaz handling most of the album and getting stretched too thin in the process. No one seemed to have their eye on the overall flow, which would be more of an annoyance if there were filler. There isn't, but there are some redundant numbers and a couple efforts that will only appeal to hardcore ballers who want their Dipset turned up way loud. Strong without being solid and impressive without being breakthrough, Broken Safety 2 is a very good album for the fan with a crowd-pleasing EP trapped inside.

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