Not being a big fan of the Ruff Ryders click I am not sure whether this is a collection of old material or new unreleased stuff, or indeed a mixture of the two. This compilation, their first in three years, is obviously designed to ride on the back of the big Jin LP which recently dropped.
The compilation starts off with a Radio skit before the powerful and gruff tomes of DMX explode on the somewhat synthy, but anthemic We’re Back which also features the first lady Eve and the more easygoing tones of Jadakiss. New names to me Infa.Red & Cross are part of the next generation of Ryders and they drop in a more southern bouncy style for their Freestyle.
01 – Various Artists – Ruff Ryders Radio (Skit)
02 – DMX ft. Eve and Jadakiss – We’re Back
03 – Infa.Red ft. Cross – Freestyle
04 – Drag-On ft. Styles P – Respect My Gangsta
05 – Jadakiss ft. 2Pac – You Ain’t Shit
06 – Drag-On- Freestyle
07 – DMX ft. Infa.Red & Cross, Sheek & Drag-On – Untouchables
08 – Aja – U Can Get It
09 – Drag-On – Put Your Drinks Down
10 – Jin – Learn Chinese
11 – Shee Louch ft. D-Block – Don’t Mean Nothin To Me
12 – DMX ft. Drag-On, Sheek, Eve … – Where The Hood At
13 – Drag-On ft. Eve and Aja – You Had Me (Remix)
14 – Reed Dollars – Freestyle
15 – I Can Di ft. Drag-On – Can T Believe
16 – Drag-On – Put You Your Drinks Down (Clean)
17 – Jin – Learn Chinese (Clean)
18 – Infa.Red and Cross – Freestyle (Clean)
19 – DMX ft. Drag-On, Sheek, Eve, Jada… – Where The Hood At
Drag On ft. Styles P bring back the sound to NY with Respect My Gangsta, a slow paced and interestingly snared production which utilises a clunky metallic sound along with the unbiquitous and detrimental simple synths. My problem with all this syth stuff is that to me it just doesn’t cut it compared to the tremendous work that has been done with samples. What I mean is that the musicianship and skill in composition is lacking in comparison to musical greats of the past and this just results in boring lacklustre beats and productions.
Ruff Ryders manage to get some more vocals from long dead 2Pac and manage to pimp his memory a bit more with a Jadakiss duet and throwaway production. As with these posthumous tracks Pac’s lyrics could fit in with the beat a touch more. For the following track Drag-On devivers with a low energy freestyle over another reworking of the break used as far back as Ice T’s High Rollers and unfortunately this is probably one of the worst versions of this that I have heard.
For me DMX is one dimensional so Untouchables got the ff treatment. Aja delivers a wishy washy moaning RnB track, a syrupy offing in a genre which does nothing for me. Jin’s Learn Chinese is definately a high point in what is turning out to be a poor selection and this is despite ripping off the Das Efx beat. DMX, Drag-On, Sheek, Eve, Jada and Styles gater together for a massive posse cut – Where The Hood At which turns out to be surprisingly rowdy and bumpable.
Although the tracklist is 18 tracks deep the last four tracks are clean versions of tracks already featured. Whilst this is a better thing than having unused disc space, you still feel this is a bit of a rip unless you either need these versions for radio play – not that many people, or if you are a major geek that needs every version available. Regardless this is a nice enugh compliation which would serve as a useful intro into what this diverse crew are about. You get a taster, but for me it was a bit sour.