Stezo – “The Last Dance” review

Stezo was a 52 year old MC/producer from New Haven, Connecticut who broke out in 1989 off his full-length debut Crazy Noise. This was followed up with the Where’s the Funk At? EP & C.T. (The Lost State) but now with his unexpected death a little over a year ago, Fat Beats is dropping a 3rd & final album containing his last recordings.

After the “Main Event” intro, “Keep the Grove” with Johnny Famous is a somewhat minimal opener calling out the industry. After the “Hip Hop Eulogy 1” interlude, we get a decent remix to the 1996 joint “Where the Funk At?” just before the cinematic “Opera House” goes at those who can’t flow.

Following the “Hip Hop Eulogy 2” interlude, Ed O.G. tags along with Masta Ace & Craig G for the grim “Psychopathic Maniac” declaring themselves as such. After the “Hip Hop Eulogy 3” interlude, we got Chubb Rock & Grand Puba coming in for the jazzy boom bap banger “Check 1, 2” flexing their lyricism.

“Rapzone” with Special Ed & Tash has a more futuristic sound taking listeners down a dimension of penmanship & after the the “Hip Hop Eulogy 4” interlude, “Lucky Me” is a gorgeous declaration of how grateful he was.

After the “Hip Hop Eulogy 5” interlude, Stezo & the late Biz Markie show an immaculate chemistry on “Steve N the Biz”. He later reflects on the hard times of his life for the airy “Homeless Stevie” & then the “It’s My Turn” sequel is just alright, as much I fuck with the original. Hakim Green & Tall T help flex their prowess on “Bring the Horns” with despite it’s title is heavy on some live drumming.

After the 6th & final “Hip Hop Eulogy” interlude, the penultimate track “Ruff N Rugged” is a dusty ode to the underground & the closer “4 Stezo” is basically a Shomari song given that Stezo himself isn’t on it at all. However, it’s a touching tribute to the man.

For a posthumous album, I think it’s pretty respectable. I think the remixes to older joints & the interludes are a bit unnecessary, but Chris Lowe’s production is raw as Hell & the guests do a great job at complimenting Stezo rather than just being there for a paycheck.

Score: 4/5

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