Strong Arm Steady was one of the first salvos in the West Coast’s resurgence as a Hip-Hop power in the post Dr. Dre era. They maintain the hardcore grit without assigning it to Blood, Crip or any other affiliation. They were one of the first teams from the West Coast to pump out mixtapes in order to get their point to the people and classics like 2010’s In Search of Stoney Jackson along with last year’s label release Arms & Hammers has steadily cemented their presence across the Hip-Hop world, and not just on the Left Coast.
This little gem, the Members Only EP, is a treat for their fans, comprised of six unreleased bangers that are likely to get you ready to roll. Mars of 1500-produced “So Hard” is a peculiar track with a melodic, slow-plodding composition with a gritty bottom and light strings brought together with digital distorted bleeps. The song moves without a sweeping motion but the different vocalists each add their own touch and the muffled break at the end takes the song home properly.
Nottz adds his trademark knock to “Love” with pounding drums and a skillfully woven in vocal soul sample. The title gives away what the track is about but that sexual hood tension is more the star here, as Krondon extrapolates on the difficulty of giving that word up. A solid track but you get used to men avoiding the L word like the plague.
Sid Roams looks through the looking glass with whimsically dope production on the Mistah Fab-backed “Join The Gang” a tale of how young men are recruited and brought into the gang life. There are many moving parts in track including the harmonized hook. Fab’s skill and delivery is evident in his tale of how romantic and delusional the entry point is when you are almost certain to die or end up in prison.
“The Warning Jacket” deals with the neighborhood snitch. The DJ Khalil-produced melody sounds like some J Dilla love song shit, which makes the song more interesting as they crew goes in on the cat that was in on the crime but told to avoid time.
“One Mistake” is a Lee Bannon produced problem with a loud knock and some serious downhill motion. A running, chopped-up soul sample runs in the back ground for character’s sake, supported by a steady diet of drums and keys that perfectly fits the free form of the song.
The Art Teacher drops dirty malevolence on “Got No Gun,” a mid tempo track with a low bottom and plinking piano keys, and gat sound effects. This is that pure West Coast gangster shit, replete with choral singing tight, lyrics full of manhood challenging lyrics. Obie Trice adds that flavor from the D with a smooth and deliberate delivery.
If this EP is comprised of unreleased joints, I shudder to imaging the stuff that’s loaded in the clip for the next album. Pure fire. Get it and get hip. West Up. Download HERE
3.75 Out of 5
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