A film about Northwest hip-hop from

The Coldest Winter

Mad Passion was a Seattle record label run by Matt Wong in the early 2000s. It only released a handful of projects, including this terrific 2003 album titled The Coldest Winter by Mista Ock. In the CD credits, Mista Ock writes to Wong personally, “thanks for not only believing, but also giving me a platform to be heard.”

There are a few tracks that don’t quite hit for me. For instance “Come Home With Me” is romantic but trite like an LL Cool J love ballad. “Ride Tonight,” featuring Central Intelligence members Key and Diopolis, is an attempt at gangsta rap but the beat is too basic to capture any real tension or suspense. By contrast, the sound effects and tonal urgency found in “Countdown To Genocide” combine these same violent themes into a more successful track. High-energy club joint “Workin It Out” tries its best, but this is another style which isn’t a natural fit for Ock, who sounds too laid-back and calm here to convey the requisite party/dance hype.

But enough criticism, the majority of The Coldest Winter is top level. Ock’s talent shines when he speaks from a place of honesty about overcoming struggle, and those songs are serious and downright compelling. The line, “S*** was all a joke, but it wasn’t too funny, I remember days, Mom scraping up ends for lunch money,” in “All I Ever Knew” is a descriptive and visual example of the humiliation that accompanies poverty. Tracks like “Changes,” “Through My Eyes,” and “Hold On,” feature Mista Ock baring his soul and his feelings to the listener. On “Forgiveness,” Ock speaks to his deceased father in a moving confession.

Title track “The Coldest Winter” is excellent, probably my favorite on the CD. “You only lose when you stop trying, and I ain’t trying to stop,” he cleverly raps to a solid beat. That’s going to be my new motto. After the success of The Coldest Winter, Seattle trio Cancer Rising signed with Mad Passion to put out their second album Search For The Cure in 2005. Written by Novocaine132

Did we get it wrong? It happens. Send us an email and let's get it corrected right away!