Roc-a-Fella Records co-CEOs Jay-Z and Damon Dash executive produced this soundtrack to the feature film of the same name. The film and soundtrack chronicle the lives of a tight-knit band of Philadelphia hustlers trying to come up in the rap game/drug game. While the territory of the soundtrack is well-trodden, Roc-a-Fella heavyweight (and Philadelphia native) Beanie Sigel headlines the project, lending his bruising and dexterous lyrical styles throughout. The album also gives a good sneak peak at the Roc's on-deck project (and fellow Philadelphian), Freeway. Freeway, he of the high-pitch pimp chatter, is on the next level of intelligent hoodlumism. Sigel and Freeway certainly carry this project, appearing on nine and six tracks respectively (the album boasts a total of 13 cuts). The production here is heavy and flossed out, but not without dashes of Philly soul à la the O'Jays/Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes; the catchy feel of the Philly soul era is re-buffed and transposed to mesh with the "hard-knock life" tone of the album. The album has tremendous crossover appeal, having been released in an era in which gangsta rap had fully reached the MTV masses. The single "Roc the Mic" was proof positive of this, as it became a smash hit with rap's die-hard fans and weekend hip-hop listeners alike.
AllMusic Review by M.F. DiBella