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Checkmate

After recording three albums in six years, Save Me in 1999, Crown Royale in 2003, and The Rebirth in 2004, Seattle rapper Gangsta Nutt was ready to go even higher. He assembled a star-studded guest list and dropped the epic double-CD Checkmate as his second album of 2004. Coming in at 31 tracks, Checkmate might be the longest album ever from a Seattle rap artist.

Standout tracks on disc one include “Ten Toes,” which gives the listener a dramatic contrast, hard lyrics set to a soft and sweetly gentle beat. Nutt admits that life, “Got me heavy on some real s***, my mind on some meal s***, I’m living to die, so I’m on some murder, death, kill s***.” Somewhere around the halfway point in “It Goes Down” (featuring Yukmouth) I started involuntarily nodding my head and really catching the vibe.

“Heavy On My Mind,” “Bout That Drama,” and “Dangerous” are solid gangsta cuts which explain Nutt’s perspective through his confessional lyrics. His gravelly voice somehow captures the urgency of living in the streets day to day. “A petty-a** beef took him from his wife and kids,” goes a sorrowful line from “Heavy On My Mind.” One of Nutt’s achievements on Checkmate is the desperate conviction with which he performs his lyrics.

The pleasant and melodic “Listen To My Demo” (featuring Budder) describes how difficult it can be to get a foothold in the constantly shifting music industry, especially for someone trying to escape a former life of crime. “All I Ever Wanted” is a celebratory cut about material success. “All I ever wanted was a plushed out crib, with a super bad b**** in my plushed out whip,” dreams Nutt in the chorus.

The last track on disc two, “King Of 206” might be my favorite on the album. The beat has sinister bounce, while the lyrics brag and boast. Gangsta Nutt had accomplished all he set out to, but as he phrased it on one of his early hits, there is always “mo to grab.” I gotta give a shout out to RC The Trackaholiq who produced much of this album. The beats on Checkmate will rattle your trunk or your living room, and that’s a promise.

In 1982 according to legend, producer Quincy Jones considered almost seven hundred different songs for Thriller. Eventually Jones recorded thirty songs and then picked the best nine for the final record. To me that’s more fair to the listener. To be honest, Checkmate is a little exhausting, and a few of the songs probably could have been left off. But for those who have an unlimited appetite for gangsta tales, this double album will be the answer to their prayers. Written by Novocaine132

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