For those of you who don’t know, Chaundon is an emcee from North Carolina (originally from the Bronx). He is also a part of the Justus League, a hip-hop outfit based that boasts such members as Little Brother (The Getback, The Minstrel Show, The Listening), 9th Wonder (Chemistry, Murs 3:16), Nicolay (Foreign Exchange, Timeline) Skyzoo (Cloud 9), and others. It’s a great collective of artists, and they are definitely bringing heat, unlike a lot of hip-hop in the South. Chaundon has proven his worth as an artist in the past with guest spots on his affiliates’ albums. Given the caliber of the artists he is affiliated with, and his past experience, it’s pretty much a given that his album will be great.
And it mostly is. It is a very solid effort from a very little known artist. Chaundon has an impeccable, energetic, sometimes even frantic flow that always matches the beat perfectly. His raps are chock-full of witty punchlines, clever turns of phrase, and metaphors for days. But I can’t help but feeling that this album gets a little boring. It’s not the production; with beats from Illmind, 9th Wonder, Khrysis, and others this album actually shines in the production department. And it’s not a lack of guest spots. In fact, there are guest spots aplenty from Jean Grae, Skyzoo, Torae, Sean Price, Joe Scudda, Sha Stimuli and plenty of others. It’s just that Chaundon, while he’s a very talented emcee, does not have quite the charisma to carry an album on his own. In fact, his best moments are when he has other rappers on the track. This seems both to force him to step it up lyrically, and to take focus off of Chaundon. He would be much better suited for being in a hip-hop group than being a solo-artist.
One of the biggest problems on this album, is his seeming inability to vary up his subject matter. As a rapper, he is very talented. But he needs to take the lesson, show don’t tell a little more seriously, and let his rhymes speak for themselves. Most of the album is Chaundon bragging about how great he is, and about how everyone else is jealous of him. While yes, he is great, here is an interesting news flash for Chaundon: you are an unknown. I don’t think there are many rappers jealous of you. His best moments lyrically are when he doesn’t talk about how great he is, or how hard it was for him to grow up in the hood.
The real stand-out tracks are “The Greatest Warrior,” “Three Kings” (feat. Skyzoo and Torae), and “Gone” feat. Jean Grae. “The Greatest Warrior” opens the album up, introducing Chaundon to those who don’t know him. It is straight braggadocio, and gives Chaundon a chance to play around and showcase his lyrical talents. “Three Kings” is a classic posse cut. With Justus League brothers Skyzoo and Torae, each member gets a chance to pump themselves up and rep their crew. “Gone” pits Chaundon against femcee extraordinaire Jean Grae. Jean is on-point, and forces Chaundon to step it up lyrically. This tells the story of a man cheating on his wife, and the reactions of both parties. It’s very well done.
All-in-all, the album is good. Chaundon is a talented rapper, he has some brilliant production behind him, and he has some excellent emcees to come help him out. However, he is bogged down by a one track mind, and the inability to carry things on his own. Don’t get the wrong impression about this album though… it is a good album. Definitely good for a spin or two right off the bat, and a few more listenings down the line. But the album feels more like a mixtape than an album. It’s like the prequel to the actual masterpiece, but the artist needs to put something out there to prove himself before the album drops. Chaundon holds his own, and puts his all into this, but he lacks the star-power it takes to rock a solo.
**not from the album, but still Chaundon
Chaundon on MySpace