As the protegés of the Clipse, the Re-Up Gang has detailed street-game rhyming down. But the spare, spooky synths and bouncy beats that worked so well on their previous mixtapes are few and far between on their official debut album.

 

The Re-Up Gang was unleashed on the world via a series of three mixtapes ("We Got It 4 Cheap," Vols. 1-3) by Virginia’s hardest grinders, the Clipse, and the group’s members came off as husky-voiced Clipse Juniors, adding some variation to the crew’s sharp street stories and hustling memoirs.

And even though the mixtapes used a lot of other people’s beats (Common’s “The Corner,” Cassidy’s “I’m a Hustla,” Lil’ Kim’s “Queen B*tch”), there was enough quality original production to keep them from sounding dated. All three volumes had excellent moments and, selectively picked and reassembled, probably would have made for a great record.

Unfortunately, the production on the Re-Up Gang’s official debut, "The Clipse present Re-Up Gang," is much more uneven and settles for over-the-top when spooky, spare synth lines worked much better for them in the past.

“Street Money” is a perfect example of a fantastic Re-Up Gang song. A simple, eerie marimba line snakes through the reverb-heavy beat. “Show You How to Hustle” is little more than a square-wave synth and a toy-box melody.

But too often, songs employ faux-gothic MIDI strings or heavy minor-key pianos with beats that seem just a little too slow for the lyrical quickness that Re-Up Gang members Ab Liva and Sandman displayed on the Got It 4 Cheap mixtapes. Or, in the case of “We Know,” a generic version of Rick Ross’s “Hustlin’.”

It’s too bad, because even when they’re rapping slowly, the Re-Up Gang has come up well under the Clipse’s tutelage. Like their mentors, the subject matter rarely varies from the trappings of the drug game, but too many lackluster beats drag down what should be an exciting debut.

Where’s my copy of "Got It 4 Cheap, Vol. 1"?

Listen to samples from the album at Amazon.com.

Sussex Countian