“Some of your LPs/stand for ‘long punishment’ ” – Buckshot, “No Future”
If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. The Formula is the second full length to come from the partnership of Black Moon MC Buckshot and former Little Brother producer 9th Wonder. Sonically, The Formula is mastered better than their first collaboration, 2005’s Chemistry, with the beats hitting harder and the production sounding crisper. But 9th Wonder’s production gives the album the same lush and soulful vibe that his fans seek and Buckshot flows nicely over his midtempo beats. The Formula’s consistency is both its greatest strength and greatest liability; the problem is, neither emcee nor producer really leaves their comfort zone. 9th Wonder does great work but his airy samples and signature drums can grow repetitive for first time listeners. The seamless nature of The Formula makes the songs blend together. The album would also have benefitted from more guest spots, as Buckshot’s unwavering delivery wears after a while. But Buck’s trademark sing song/toast perfected on Enta Da Stage still sounds good, and he still comes with the street-smart punch lines that made records like “I Got Cha Opin” so memorable.
9ths campain for Adult Contemporary hip-hop has entered its next phase. R&B singers like Carlitta Durand add sung choruses to several songs, lending the album a smoother, more mature steez than its more rugged, Beatminerz-influenced predecessor. Where Buckshot once threatened to buck down weak emcees who stepped to him, he’s switched up his style as befits an elder statesman. Now he kicks the truth to the youth, rapping: “I don’t preach/but I do teach/my little homies in the hood how to outreach.”
While the songs may be a bit similar sounding at times, it’s encouraging to see a rapper working with a single producer on an album. And The Formula’s highlights more than make up for the duller tracks. Lyrically the best tracks include “Go All Out”, “Hold It Down” featuring Talib Kweli and Tyler Woods, “Shinin’ Y’All” & “Man Listen”. -Aaron Matthews