When he's not rapping about the shootouts he's witnessed, Beanie Sigel is either sitting in a jail cell or witnessing more shootouts. He'll probably tell you that it's not the life he chose, it's the life that chose him. However, the quality of music that emerges from Beans' catalog is mainly his choice. As The Solution shows, he doesn't always live up to expectation.
Mack vs. Sigel
Beanie Sigel is known for spitting rhymes that are tougher than steel. His tough talk and his rugged background are not mutually exclusive. Over and over, Sig has squeezed musical treasure out of real life tragedies. His knack for crafting dark but believable tales helped catapult his first three albums to the upper echelon of the ROC anthology, making him the crown Prince of Roc-A-Fella.
The fourth time around, though, Beans seems to have lost his spark. He's less emotive, less involved, more distracted on The Solution. Surely, the Broad Street Bully would hope that he comes across as a grown man on Solution. Instead, the album captures the confusion of a man struggling to balance two conflicting personae.
Sigel has probably found out by now that trying to run the streets and soil the sheets at the same time comes with a hefty price. The ghost of Chritopher Wallace hovers on "I'm In," in which Sig constructs a story around BIG's famous line, "Once she grins, I'm in, game begin." But paying homage to the fairer sex is not Beans' bread and butter, so his storytelling on "I'm In" quickly sounds anything but authentic.
The Bully is in top form when spewing angst at unnamed rivals, alongside Jay-Z, on "Gutted." He also shines when his smart and confident lyrics mesh with a melancholic soundbed on "Dear Self."
The main problem with The Solution is that it lacks a sense of direction. Ghostface is miscast as a collaborator on the boring "Pass the Patron," also featuring Diddy and Peedi. Even Diddy, who's usually good at crafting ballerific anthems, falters. Beanie has never been a killer with club cuts, but he manages to turn in a decent showing on the R.Kelly-assisted "All the Above." Unfortunately, the song is badly sequenced as an album opener.
Like Free At Last, The Solution is missing two key ingredients that ROC fans have grown accustomed to: Just Blaze and Kanye (Beans had called Kanye a fag because of his fashion sense). production duo Dre and Vidal are left to pick up the bulk of the album's production, and they don't disappoint. They supply the album's strongest cuts: The braggadocios "What They Gon' Say to Me" and the Ozzy Osbourne-sampled "Judgment Day." Thankfully, Beans has never met a beat he couldn't murk, so he ensures that the production rarely overshadows the rhymes.
Bottom Line on The Solution
In order to enjoy the few gems on The Solution, you'll have to do a lot of skipping. It takes off slowly and gathers momentum towards the end. It should be the opposite. The Solution is not a terrible album; it's just a disappointing product from an artist who's capable of so much more.
- "Gutted" (ft. Jay-Z)
- "Prayer" (ft. Raheem DeVaughn)
- "What They Gon' Say to Me"