Following his fellow LOX compadres’ earlier 2015 albums (A Wise Guy and a Wise Guy by Styles P and Top 5 Dead or Alive by Jadakiss), Sheek Louch is in the unfortunate position of having to fill their shoes and meet artistic expectations with his own late year LP. What he has turned in to Tommy Boy Records for their Friday Dec. 4 release, Silverback Gorilla 2, his sixth studio album and sequel to the 2008 original, is fun and retro at times but noticeably outdated and thin at other times.
Talking about the good and bad of his childhood at the outset and getting artificially confrontational in a few nice posse cuts, Louch is not shy about staying gangster, staying hood. Sometimes he is socially responsible – stepping his game up and leaving a nest egg behind for his son in “I’m Working” then making himself something out of nothing in “Obamacare,” but at other points, he is straight reckless and sadistic. Tracks five, six and seven could simply be considered free advertising for the NRA or another American pro-gun lobby. Likewise, “Trap Stories” is just a faded gangsta rap story reworked from the past.
Ensconced in the superficiality of stripper praise in “Clap,” in-descriptive sex in “You and Me” and the embrace of unrefined street character in “Hood in You” is the gem that is “Legends.” Sheek Louch fosters goodwill between new and old rappers in the industry, hoping to end the pointless bickering between the generations (see Vince Staples vs. Noreaga as one example).
Overall, Sheek Louch does enough in Silverback Gorilla 2 to keep his legacy breathing a little longer but not enough to support the thesis that he is one of the leaders of ’90s hip-hop, just proving he’s first and foremost a part of a greater whole: The LOX. Jada and Styles are both here, with some of Sheek’s other veteran friends, and the presence of Pusha T and A$AP Ferg certainly backs the statements made in “Legends.” If the album is a meeting between the old school and the new school, the new has been favored to win, but the old has strong-armed the new into submission (just listen to the beats). Unintentionally nostalgic, the Silverback Gorilla is still alive but with one foot in the grave, sad to say.