Backland: Back in Business
The Freestyle Friday competition on BET’s 106th and Park is the closest thing aspiring battle rappers have to an American Idol, even if its most famous hall of famers—Jin and SunN.Y.—were major-label flops. But the few that have retired undefeated after seven weeks can still boast hometown hero status, and Baltimore’s had Backland’s back ever since he swept the competition in 2002. Unfortunately, his career was temporarily stalled in 2004 when a car accident put him in the hospital.
Back in Business is Backland’s first mixtape since the accident, and though he sounds happy to be back on “Like I Ain’t Never Left,” he gets serious for most of the disc. On “Real Talk” he opens up about the months he spent in a wheelchair and the struggle to walk again. The chubby kid who dazzled everyone four years ago with an endless supply of hilarious punch lines is still there at times, but on “Rap 101,” an older, more mature Backland admonishes other MCs for relying too heavily on wordplay and tired subject matter. Backland’s last mixtape, 2004’s The One, featured a hit collaboration with Bone Crusher, a highlight reel of his Freestyle Friday victories, and some killer production. By comparison, Back in Business is a little underwhelming, but it’s still good to have him back.