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Frontline: Now U Know


Frontline: Now U Know

Label:Rykodisc/Penalty
Format:Album
Media:CD
Release Date:2005
Genre:Electronic/Dance

By Craig Smith | Posted 6/15/2005

Frontline has been tagged to revive the Bay Area’s long dormant rap scene—one that’s been desperately seeking the next Tupac for years. Rhymers Left and Locksmith boast street cred from their crime-riddled home of Richmond, Calif., and along with an improbable second-place finish by Locksmith at an MTV rhyme battle in 2003, they’ve got a shot at stardom.

Regrettably, their middling debut overflows with generic tunes such as “Bang It!” Helmed by veteran Oakland beatsmith E-A-Ski, minimalist synth drums snap, but Left and Locksmith’s rhyming bombasts are downright dull. And in the fabled tradition of Lil Jon—dropping multiple tunes with not much more than nominal keyboard stabs—Frontline doesn’t sail through uncharted sonic waters. Meanwhile, “That Ain’t U” attacks faux gangsters while asserting their own toughness. “A dude that from streets/ Check my bars,” Left kicks. “Every word outta my mouth is gravel and tar.”

“Stomp ’N’ Clap” has breakout potential, with Left self-producing the radio-ready jam. While foot-smashing and hand-smacking is blatantly clichéd party fodder, it can undeniably compete in today’s crunk-infused rap landscape. Now U know’s ultimate downer is its endless supply of tough talk, but true to its task, Frontline does give a shot in the arm to its Northern Cali digs. As Locksmith asserts on “What I Can,” “I can honestly say I did more for the Bay in one day than you did in years.”

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