Some members of Da Youngsta's were so young during the making of The Aftermath that they were still waiting for their voices to fully change. It made for a few cringe-inducing moments -- especially considering that the trio tried to talk tough for most of the album -- on an otherwise stellar recording. Cracking voices posed no impediment to the group's sophomore effort, No Mercy, a considerably more mature album that takes them confidently beyond juvenilia. Gone for the most part are the exaggerated rebelliousness and hyperbole that marred the debut, and in their place is a welcome sense of realism. There is still some embellishment here and there, but on the whole, No Mercy is a great deal more genuine, mixing the few moments of impetuousness with celebrations of the city and the hip-hop lifestyle, and even a venture into ghetto romance ("Put Me On"). The album also has a more consistent sound, due to the less-cooks-in-the-kitchen approach. The legendary Marley Marl shares most of the production duties with Kevin "K-Def" Hansford, and although it is always a blow to lose the skills of a Pete Rock or DJ Premier, the two create an exquisite, jazz-slanted underground aesthetic that blends the gritty with the chill, a sound that lends itself to the more measured approach of Da Youngsta's this time around. The music is, ironically enough, less commercial as a result of this shift in tone and intent, but it makes for a better album in almost every way.
AllMusic Review by Stanton Swihart