Sheek Louch promotes diversity. Well, at least when it comes to production. The New Yorker and underdog LOX member spreads 11 different beatmakers across 13 tracks on Donnie G: Don Gorilla, running the gamut of Hip-Hop sounds and coming back with mixed results.
The album opens up with two of Sheek’s most lyrically striking tracks, including an intro called “Rhyme Animal” that aptly sums up the theme of the entire project. On its successor, “Get it Poppin,” Louch rides a simplistic fear-inducing beat from The Futuristiks & Team Ready, extending his creative syntax beyond the bounds we’re used to hearing from him.
Soon thereafter unfortunately, Sheek slides into familiar territory, seemingly throwing everything at the wall and seeing what sticks. The cliché-ridden “Club Jam Packed” feels like filler. When Sheek says “It’s too easy,” he might be referring to the song, as it appears not much effort was put into it. And the seemingly radio-aimed “Picture Phone Foreplay” pulls Louch away from the gritty appeal he has gained over the years.
Conversely, standout tracks like “Ol’ Skool” with its smooth feel and “Blood & Tears” pull the album out of the trenches of mediocrity, providing incentive to keep mushing past the unlistenable. Most rewarding is “Nite Falls;” the driving force of DGDG. Statik Selekah delivers a bass-driven Planet P Project sample while Sheek capitalizes on the beat, allowing the vocal sample to finish his rhymes. Louch effectively harmonizes with the tones in the music without actually singing.
Sheek’s fifth studio album often teeters between gritty greatness and an identity crisis, leaning more toward the latter than he may have hoped. The bright spots glow to the point where individual download fame could be acheived yet the weaker moments may hinder their public awareness altogether. A few obligatory D-Block guest spots come with nasty production and an air of nostalgia, but Louch on his own doesn’t give us much incentive to cop the whole project.
Don’t sleep on Sheek, but don’t expect a comprehensive, gelling piece of art either. The cavalcade of production appeals to a wide range of ears. Perhaps too wide.