San Quinn has always been a prolific rapper, releasing nearly an album a year since 1996, when he debuted with his first studio record, The Hustle Continues. He has also always presented himself as aggressive and confident, very much in the way of obvious influence and fellow West Coaster 2Pac (whose style can also be heard in the soul- and funk-based instrumental arrangements and samples), not shy in talking about violence or the reality of life growing up in the Fillmore neighborhood of San Francisco. On The Rock: Pressure Makes Diamonds, Quinn doesn't neglect this side: most of the 19 tracks (and they are all full songs; there are none of the filler skits notorious on rap albums) address his readiness to injure anyone who may get in his way -- from women ("Your baby mama don't believe in silence/So we believe in domestic violence" from "Kick Yo' Ass") to other men ("You bums talk a lot/Our guns spark, so the cops use chalk a lot" in "The Hunter") -- his own prowess as a rapper, and life in San Francisco. But in the few love songs on the album, The Rock breaks away from the patterns Quinn has already established. "So Young" is almost sentimental, detailing the development of the nine-year relationship with his wife, and makes you really wonder if Quinn truly believes every violent thing he has been saying. Added to this deviation is the song "I Got Goons," which, while profiling the people that Quinn has control over, also finds him admitting to be a "goon...too," no different than everyone else around him. Similarly, he briefly addresses the costs of high living in "Tell Me What the Price Is" in an almost ironic tone. Unfortunately, these moments of reflection are too infrequent, and don't delve deeply enough, which leaves you with a more superficial idea of who Quinn is than who he actually is. You can believe now that he is "Way More Than They Can See," but you're not exactly sure how.
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AllMusic Review by Marisa Brown
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