Saturday, August 8, 2015

Big Mass is the California King

    Massive aka Massdog came up under the guidance of Compton's Most Wanted's DJ Slip and DJ Unknown, and over the years he has become a heavyweight of a producer in his own right, through his work with Volume 10 ("Harderthanally'all", "Chucks & Khaks" & "Blaze On"), AWOL One ("To Low to Get" & "The Real Underworld"), MC Eiht ("Kind of Pimpish"), Rappin' 4-Tay ("Do You Wanna Ride", "Think It Over", "Ho Over My Homie", "Every Third Brother" & "Win or Lose") and EX2 ("Exceeding Expectations", "Lmnts ov No Remores" & "KXLU Commercial"), among others. He has also carved out an impressive solo career, from his rare and elusive Back to the Under Ground album, released in '92, to the G-Funk infused Watch Yo Back, Massive has shown himself to be versatile yet consistent.

    The L.A. veteran's latest release, from 2010, California King, released under his birth name, Marshall Ford, is a bit of a sonic departure from his previous albums, with more of an emphasis on funk and soul than his previous records. The album opens with some old school flavour, a tribute to pure hip-hop, with some excellent cuts by Roach the DJ, but quickly shifts to a more funky, soulful tone, complete with summery vibes and sung hooks, handled by Massive himself. Listeners get a strong dose of funk with "This Club is Hot" - a club track that you wish they would play in actual clubs - which sees Mass crooning on the hook and kicking some fun, light-hearted rhymes. And the subject matter, for the most part, sticks to love and lust, realized on tracks like "Brighter", a love song for Mass' lady, and "Get in My Bed", a very soulful excursion. "Buggin" is a unique cut, with a 60s feel that really emphasizes Massive's ability to adapt as an emcee. "All for You" is another homage to true love, something Mass clearly has and values in his life. Overall, this is a light-hearted but very mature album, making the choice to use his real name seem logical.

    While each song stands on it's own, the album maintains a cohesive feel and is really a complete listening experience. "Blaka Blaka" is another club-friendly track - this time with a cool gangster edge - featuring a guy called Black August, and done in a way only a seasoned vet can, with an emphasis on deep, funky grooves. The funk continues on "Evolution of a Mass", a stand-out track that sees Massdog breaking down his past hardships, lessons learned and his philosophy on getting through the trials and tribulations of life. "Baby The SunShine" is a shimmering summertime gem with substance, a tale of his struggles in the music business: "Hip-hop betrayed me and I just let 'er/ but she turn me on and I won't forget/ that my style like Bruce with the sound effects." Another highlight is "Loose Some Weight", a heartfelt and brutally honest story of Massive's struggles with his weight. The album closes how it began, coming full circle, with some very dope scratching by Roach the DJ and a real "true school" vibe, which pays tribute to some of his past work with AWOL, showing that while this album may have veered off into unexplored territory, Massive always sticks to his roots.

    You can download the album for free here, courtesy of the man himself. As he explained to me, "[Everybody can] get the album for free. It's a gift to my peeps!" And this album is definitely a gift, so grab it now and enjoy it while summer is still here! And if you would like to support, you can cop some of his past work here.

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