Before Snoop Dogg introduced the world to his Doggystyle tactics or Nate Dogg and Warren G regulated their G-Funk, the California-bred trio existed as 213. Hailing from Long Beach, these three rappers were introduced by Dr. Dre more than ten years ago. Before getting into the studio and making an album as a group, Snoop Dogg, Nate Dogg and Warren G had successful solo careers each shouting out their group name hinting at the long-awaited reunion of 213 but never imagining it as a reality. A decade later, the debut album from 213 titled, “The Hard Way” has hit stores.
Unfortunately, the debut album fails to meet expectations.
“The Hard Way” sounds like the three legendary rappers were in a hurry to wrap up the album out and get on with their lives. If 213 were to have released “The Hard Way” seven or eight years earlier, its weaknesses would be less obvious. But with hip-hop in golden age, 213 sounds like they are still living in the ’90s.
The album is disappointing because fans expect a lot more from three rappers who should know how to put together a great record. “The Hard Way” was supposed to “bring back the West Coast” but instead it shows us why the West Coast is no longer a Hip-Hop powerhouse.
Snoop Dogg, Nate Dogg and Warren G do not sound like three life-long friends, but rather like B2K, or some other teenage rap group. These three do have several highlights scattered throughout the album to help and rescue the record from being a complete disaster. But these minimal offerings are hardly enough to compensate for the disappointment.
The first single off the album is “Groupie Luv.” With its tiring beat and subpar lyrics, the song is neither a club-banger nor is it a song that a 213 fan would have pride in playing.
Warren G raps, “I need a ride or die groupie that can get dirty in Gucci/On the floor or the floor or the hoopty while she loving me up/I’m usually the instigator/But ain’t nothing greater/Than a X-rater with a nickname like vibrator.” Warren G would get away with these sub-par lyrics on a solo album but not here. Warren G is the third talented rapper on this group and it shows throughout most of the album.
Known for his producing ability, it is very surprising that Warren G did not produce ONE song on this album. The Kanye West produced “Another Summer” is perfect for a rapper like Snoop Dogg because of Snoop’s easy-flowing sound but that is about all the song is good for. Snoop Dogg is being himself when he raps, “Pool party after church, G’d up and barbequing/ Ain’t no tellin’ what your daddy or your momma doin/ Chewing on these baby backs, poppin’ bottles with these macks/ Everybody swimmin’, backyard full of women/ I’m entertaining folks gave the lil’ homie twenty dollars just to shine my hundred spokes.”
The album has more disappointing tracks than good ones. Tracks like, “MLK,” “Keep it Gangsta,” and “Lil Girl” make you wonder if this is 213’s album or Lil Romeo’s.
“The Hard Way” does have its few bright-spots. “So Fly,” the song that has been getting played on the radio for a year now, shows off the talents of the three rappers over a Missy Elliot produced backdrop from Monica’s “So Gone.”
Warren G outshines the other two in this song as he raps, “Shotgun with the thing/Coat chillin watchin “The Lion King”/Crying and thangs/ Cus I’m with Snoop and Nate, singing, rhyming and things/ I’m out late cus I’m rhyming for change.”
Other decent tracks include “Joysticc,” “213 Tha Gangsta Clicc,” and “Lonely Girl.” Unfortunately, that is as good as it gets. Listening to these tracks gave me hope that maybe 213 will put out a better album in the future.
As a 213 fan who has been waiting for the release of this album for many years, “The Hard Way” is essentially nothing more than a let down. There are 19 tracks on this album and only two of them deserve to be on repeat: “So Fly,” and “213 Tha Gangsta Clicc.” After listening to the record, I immediately took the cd out of my cd player.
Rating: * * (out of 5)