This is the 14th full-length album from Hempstead emcee SmooVth. Coming up as 1/2 of the duo Tha Connection alongside Hus Kingpin, he would also build an impressive solo discography for himself along the way with my personal favorites being just about everything that Giallo Point has ever done with him: Portrait of a Pimp, Medellin, the sequel to the latter Medellin II: Don Fabio & Amongst Wolves. But when it was revealed that Fredro Starr of the revered Queens duo Onyx was gonna behind the boards for Project Near You from beginning to end, my anticipation for it was very high considering that Q started making beats recently as well as Onyx vs. Everybody being the best thing that he & Sticky Fingaz have done together since the Snowgoons-produced SnowMads nearly 3 years back.
“Project” is a soulful opener vividly describing how it be in Hempstead whereas “The High” works in some pianos to talk about making a band. “That’z Us” brings some stellar vibraphones in the mix so that both parties can give it to you raw & uncut, but then Tha Connection links up for the piano/boom bap hybrid “Niggary” with both MCs spitting some gritty ass gangsta raps.
Meanwhile on “17 a Key”, we have SmooVth over a drumless loop getting on his pyrex shit leading into J.D. Era tagging along for the dreary “100 Up” talking about how no one can fuck with them even though J.D.’s verse has to be the weakest feature on the album with all respect. Fredro himself comes into the picture for the title track lacing some acoustics & dusty drums advising that they’ll be pulling up to a hood nearby just before “Straight A’s” brings back the keys looking back on being told he can’t get paid or laid.
The song “Imagine” shoots for a more tranquil aesthetic instrumentally providing food for thought while the penultimate track “Corner Pockets” returns to grimier territory talking about how ruff & rugged shit can get. “Sad & Blue” however ends the album with glossy beat & a sample of “La Di Da Di” by Slick Rick as SmooVth tells his audience that’s exactly how he’s feeling.
Now, if you happen to be a fan of both of these guys like I am, then I highly recommend giving Project Near You a listen because it’s one of my favorite SmooVth albums to date. The lyricism from him & nearly every feature takes you through the harsh realities of the Big Apple with Fredro’s continuing to refine his production game, as the shit he cooks up here is even better than what I heard on the last Onyx EP.
This is the 2nd EP from Queens duo Onyx. Consisting of Sticky Fingaz & Fredro Starr, the first 3 outings Bacdafucup as well as All We Got Iz Us & Shut ‘Em Down are rightfully considered by many to be East Coast classics. They went on to release 2 mediocre albums in the early 2000s before going AWOL, returning in 2014 with the Snowgoons produced #WAKEDAFUCUP. Black Rock was ok Snowmads was a great follow-up to #WAKEDAFUCUP, but Onyx 4 Life & 1993 were as mid as Black Rock to me. That being said, I was very much looking forward to Onyx vs. Everybody given that Fredro is producing the whole thing.
After the titular intro, “It’s Goin’ Down” opens up the EP with some horns talking about going brazy whereas “Shoot Wit” is a raw boom bap banger calling to raise the hand that the shooters let off rounds with. “Real Evil” ominously opens up about killing people leading into Termanology tagging along for the symphonic “Project Gladiators” declaring themselves as such.
“I Rap Like” works in some pianos & dusty drums showing y’all they still got it, but “Bac Up Off Me” with Harrd Luck is so short that there’s literally no point of it being on here in my opinion. The song “Raze the Crime Rate” returns to the raw street life anthems despite the Ricky Bats feature missing the target & after the “Brooklyn Bullshit” interlude, the closer “Talk in New York” with Big Twins rounds everything out with a fresh ode to the 5 boroughs.
For an EP, I think this happens to be one of Onyx’s best bodies of work in a while. I wish it was a little more fleshed out & a couple of the features are questionable, but Fredro schools it behind the boards as he & Sticky Fingaz still deliver the hardcore hip hop style they blew up off of.
Onyx is a revered hip hop duo from Queens, New York consisting of Sticky Fingaz & Fredro Starr. Their first 3 albums Bacdafucup, All We Got Iz Us & Shut ‘Em Down are rightfully considered by many to be East Coast classics. They went on to release 2 mediocre albums in the early 2000s before going AWOL, returning in 2014 with the Snowgoons produced #WAKEDAFUCUP. This was followed up early last year with the long-lost Black Rock but with Thanksgiving around the corner, they’re getting back with the Snowgoons to deliver a follow-up to the album that returned them to form.
After the intro, the first song “Who da Fuc?” finds Sticky & Fredro challenging their opponents over a boom bap beat with some suspenseful string sections. The next track “Robbing Hip Hop” with Bumpy Knuckles & NEMS sees the 4 comparing taking the game back to a burglary over a frightening instrumental while the song “Monsters Gorillas” with V Knuckles sees the 3 talking about being stone-cold killers over a suspenseful boom bap beat. The track “Rat Tat Tat” of course talks about guns which is cool, but the Quadro & UFO Fev features don’t do anything for me.
The song “Hoodies Down” finds Sticky & Fredro talking shit over an adrenaline pumping beat while the track “Kill da Mic” shows that their lyricism is still grittier than ever over mafiosi-like instrumental. The song “Street Art” with SickFlo sees the 3 showing y’all how hardcore hip hop should be done over a boom bap beat with a fantastic organ lead while the track “Trolling” with V Knuckles is an actually decent diss track towards Charlamagne tha God & 6ix9ine. The song “Ringolevio” flawlessly goes back & forth over a bloodcurdling instrumental while the track “Built Like That” talks from the heart about their courage & strength over an upbeat instrumental.
The song “Mad Shoot Outs” with Flee Lord lyrically needs no further explanation & the lugubrious instrumental fits very well whereas the track “I Got the Tec-9” continues the themes of the previous joint over a boom bap beat with some keyboards. The standard edition closer “Ain’t No Time to Rest” feels like a leftover from Onyx’s Shotgunz in Hell collab album with Dope D.O.D. & then the album finishes with the bonus cut “Good Fight”, which is an energetic crowd mover.
I’ve been wanting a #WAKEDAFUCUP follow-up for a while now & I’m finally glad they did it. Some of the features I could do without, but the Snowgoons‘ raw production yet again fits the duo’s cutthroat lyricism like a glove.