"The War Report" by Capone-N-Norega is a classic album straight up and down, yo. If you don't have it, get it on iTunes or some shit right now. I'll wait. Leave this window open.
Okay? Did you listen to it? So, nice right? Fuck, kid, why ain't you listen to that before?
While you definitely agree with me that War Report a classic, I have to make mention of one important fact: It's a classic without lyrical weight. "What?" - you. Sure the content is mad creative, and Capone and Nore spit relentlessly and definitely earned some fans and their position, but the fact is these guys aren't the best behind the mic. Yes, they're violent, they make a lot of references to weird war shit, and Nore has a staggeringly dope flow, but their lines are loose, son (like your mom). On the other hand, Tragedy Khadafi, who appears on about half the songs on this album, is quite gifted lyrically and literally saves the album with Grade A quality raps.
Lyrics aside, though, what really makes this album are the beats. War Report features amazing production and has almost no bad beats on the whole shit. That's unheard of. Every beat has something. Most of them come hard, some are a little softer but are still crafted well enough to pull in the roughnecks. It's nearly perfect.
So I'm going to attempt to do the impossible and pick out the five best beats. I've got the benefit of hindsight (I'm no longer impacted by the singles, or what the record company thought should be the best beats). Plus I've spun this shit like a million times, so the weaker beats have been worn out for me.
This is the best of the best. I need a movie reference here but I don't have one.
HERE WE GO:
"L.A L.A" (Kuwait Mix) - Marley Marl
"L.A. L.A." was the second single off of the album, and it still holds up today. Marley Marl's beat is insane. It moves like an unstoppable machine, just grinding along. The layered samples are hard as nails and the edits to clean up the language somehow make the song even tougher. Let me make this clear: even though this beat is ranked fifth, it's still about a hundred times better than most shit out there including your shit.
"Bloody Money" - EZ Elpee
"Bloody Mary" kicks off the album and pulls you right in with a simple piano melody over the hardest break beat imaginable. Plus, EZ Elpee seems to know exactly when to change things up and drop the piano. Not to mention that this beat is like perfect for Nore's funky voice and flow. Nicely done, EZ Elpee, whoever you are.
"Parole Violators" - Tragedy Khadafi
Tort Team has gone on record as Tragedy fans, so it's no surprise that two of his beats made our list. This is just one of those beats that's so hard that nobody could sound weak on it. Even your grandma. It's the musical equivalent of having a nightmare. Actually, the lyrics are a little bit of a nightmare content-wise. Yikes. Don't play that last verse at church. What? What? What? What? What, what? What?
"Illegal Life" - Tragedy Khadafi, Havoc
This is the first single off of the album and I suspect that having Havoc's name attached helped the record company make that choice, although this is one of the best songs off the shit. Tragedy brought it a second time with a beat based on a voice looped at different speeds over another insane breakbeat. It's an odd concept but it works incredibly well, it's amazing that there is another beat that's actually better than this on this album.
"Halfway Thugs" - Charlemagne
I KNOW! What can I say? Nobody can't eat if I can't. This is one of the all time best hip hop beats. It's similar in structure to "Illegal Life" in that a large portion of it is based on a looping voice (singing "I know"), but it's looped in the most innovative way possible. First, it's left off much of the song. Then it loops on at some points, and at others just single words are quickly looped and fade in and out. Check the production at around 1:20. It's ridiculous. Genius.
Check it out, at around 3:15 - 3:25
Respect to the producers.
"Live On Live Long" - G-Money
Ah, this is the slow song I mentioned in the intro. It's a message of encouragement from NORE to Capone, who was in prison during the recording of this album. The beat is mad complex and really does a great job making a kind of lame concept hard.
"Driver's Seat" - The HitmenThis is another great track from the album, but I think it's genius comes from the chorus instead of the beat. When I spun the instrumental, I wasn't as impressed as I was with the track as a whole. But it's still good as hell.
"Iraq (See the World)" - EZ ElpeeI would say that this is one my favorite songs from the album, but once again, I think it's the combination of the beat and the lyrics that makes this song work, not to mention the dope chorus. In the instrumental, this beat is dope, but not enough to make it into the top five.
"T.O.N.Y." - The Hitmen
IN CONCLUSION: War Report is the shit. I challenge you, rappers, to come up with an album with this many good beats. Do it.
THE WAR REPORT SCORE 10/10