J. Wells certainly knows how to gather the stars to his cause, uniting MCs like Snoop Dogg, Rah Digga, Mack 10, Kurupt, Roscoe, Da Brat, and others on his Digital Master Vol. 2.1 set.
Wells, known most for his production credits, definitely knows how to rock a good beat too and this disc essentially finds him showing his stuff. The lyrical content is largely insignificant and no MC really brings the heat, save for maybe J-Ro of the Alkaholiks, but there are some great summer cruising tunes here and that’s going to be good enough for some.
J. Wells has formed quite a career for himself, dropping bombs in the game since he was 16 with his group Rocswell. Rapping in local clubs, it wasn’t long before he discovered that his talent was really in beats and production. Fast-forward a few years and Wells found himself inducted into the Likwit Crew, a legendary hip hop collective featuring artists like Defari and Lootpack.
Digital Master Vol. 2.1 finds Wells working the switches, proving that he can assemble a solid West Coast beat with the best of them.
“We Don’t Give a Fuck,” featuring WC, bounces with nice atmospherics and a clip Dr. Dre would be proud of. The hook is satisfying, too, and WC lays out a respectable but typical set of lyrics covering the usual subject matter of gangbanging with the homies.
“All My Bitches,” with the notorious inflection of Snoop Dogg, rolls out the usual faintly misogynistic lyrics about pimping and so forth. The song’s loop is almost euphoric, off-setting the slightly disturbing tone agreeably.
A Southern-fried-beat coats “Already Famous.” Featuring Kurupt and Da Brat, this cut is a decent little collaboration with a trouble-free, lazy gait.
For my money, the best track on Digital Master Vol. 2.1 is “Not No More.” Loaded with the services of J-Ro from the Alkaholiks, this cut has the most noteworthy lyrical contribution. Laying out words about expectations and dashed hopes, J-Ro spits with skilful flow. “I used to think that war would never reach my shore, not no more, not no more,” he says.
And Estelle shows her chops again in the perfected singer/rapper collaboration she manages so well with “You Don’t Love Me.” Wells lays out a jazzy beat that fits flawlessly.
Sadly, the significant lack of lyrical content proves to be this record’s undoing. The dreadful “Ticket” features Doll Phace laying out some seriously silly lyrics about getting a speeding ticket on the way to see a lover. While this could have been delivered with humor, the pokerfaced attempt at sensual delivery is inadvertently side-splitting. And the bountiful amounts of Auto-Tune don’t help.
All in all, though, Digital Master Vol. 2.1 is a good little assemblage of summer party tracks. The beats are solid, even if Wells still lacks an individual sound all his own, and the loops are catchy enough. Just don’t look for much in the lyric department.