DJ JS-1 has been in the hip-hop game for a long time, and thus, having paid his dues, deserves recognition from other big names in hip-hop. On Ground Original 2: No Sell Out, he gets that recognition from some of the biggest names to ever hold a mic. This album (the sequel to his 2003 release, Ground Original) in some ways, has every chance to be everything a classic LP should be. However, in other ways, No Sell Out, is doomed for mediocrity from the start.
Golden-era legends such as KRS-One, C.L. Smooth, Ultramagnetic MCs, Sadat X, PMD, Large Pro and more, trade verses with skilled, well-established emcees of the new(er) era such as, Termanology, Wordsworth, Blaq Poet, Supastition, Aesop Rock and Brother Ali, creating a lineup of rappers deeper and more talented than is seen on almost any other LP ever. So naturally this should be a great album, right?
Not so fast; various problems arise when the guest list of emcees grows too long. The first problem comes in the fact that multiple rappers often have more difficultly establishing a theme, or at least continuity from track to track, than a small group or an individual emcee would. What exacerbates this problem on No Sell Out, is the fact that this enormous list of rappers is not at all cohesive to begin with. The styles of the new school Rhymesayers and Def Jux guys just won’t mesh well with the golden-age rappers’ flows (though both are fantastic in their own respects). However, to the rappers’ credit, they actually drive this album. There are a large number of memorable verses with at least some rewind value. Check out KRS-One (does he ever disappoint?), Pharoahe Monch, and a surprisingly well-placed verse from C.L. Smooth. Wordsworth also chips in an excellent showing on “What’s Happening”.
.Ultimately in order to work, this album needed to be held together by not only tightly knit production (to give the album direction), but also really good production (after all, isn’t that the point of a producer’s album?). No Sell Out, does not pass either test, and rolls on a bit too long without a clear guide. Furthermore, numerous beats were less than satisfactory. DJ JS-1 does shine in one particular area here, that being his ability to chop various samples and scratch, which works mostly well for the productions. A few standout tracks do provide fantastic beats, such as “On The Map” and “Original G’z”. It’s not until the final cut, “Brainbender”, which features the Ultramagnetic MCs, Canibus, Prince Po, and Rahzel, that we are allowed a glimpse of what this album could have been. It’s easily the standout track on an overall jumbled and confused album.
2.5 out of 5