Cold Heat – Raising The Bar (2011)
Artist: Cold Heat
Album: Raising The Bar
01. Nobodies Leaving Alive
02. Hard To Chill
03. Raising The Bar (feat. Blacastan & Craig G)
04. Thinking Out Loud
06. Spanish Guitars (feat. Nico The Beast, SR, Neta, Meyhem Lauren)
07. Looking For You
08. Rolling Through (feat. Keith Spitz)
09. When You Coming Home
10. Given This World
11. Place Near You
12. Man On The Mic
13. Taking It All (feat. Sadat X & J-Love)
14. Smoke That Drink (feat. Blaq Poet)
You know what upsets me? People telling me that Cold Heat is an up and coming hip hop group. Damn! These guys have been around for a while and working with some of the most storied artists in the NYC. Quit acting like Jak Daniels and Johnny Walker are a couple of new jacks. There album from 2006, Bar Hoppin’ is one of the most slept on albums in the last five years.
The first thing you will notice when listening to Raising The Bar is what an ill lyricist Jak Danielz. The man is on par with some of the most recognized emcees in the game. You will not hear a better flow this year than the one you hear on the track, Flashing. I can guarantee that. The second thing that you will notice is Johnny Walker’s production stays very true to that vintage New York hip hop sound. He incorporates elements of different instrumentation, but you always get the boom-bap flavor. And since we are on the topic of , Flashing, check out this small sample of Jak D’s bars, and this is really the tip of the iceberg:
…step back, follow the leader / my flow moves like a cheetah / treat emcees like they skeezers / crush kings, pharaohs, and caesars / See I will Darrelle Revis your premature fetus / And punch you back to Jesus…
The whole song really captures everything that is right with Cold Heat. Jak D showcases an incredible flow and lyricism over solid and understated Johnny Walker production. It gets no better.
Backtracking a little bit, when you hit up the first track from the album, Nobody’s Living Alive, you realize that lyrically Jak D is better than the bulkhead of emcees that are on your favorite blog. Flipping rhymes over some production from Walker that sounds like it was lifted from the orchestra of a movie, Jak D drops this one line that is indicative of his persona and the album’s entire vibe:
I’m from the days where ‘OMG’ meant One Man Gang / True scholar, never ran with a dumb man’s slang…
This album is chocked full of these types of dope beats and raw, crafty lyricism. One of the albums best collaborative effort occurs early on in the album when Blacastan and Craig G partner up with duo for the title track, Raising the Bar. Blacastan is on a bit of a roll as of late. I am really feeling his contribution to this record and Craig G has been a staple on Cold Heat albums before and it’s easy to see why. The man is just nice with his. He has been around for a while (not trying to date him) but he is as good, if not better, than any of these young cats coming up in the game. I have never been disappointed with a Craig G verse. Still, no one is outshining Jak D on this track. His flow is just too vicious to place on a back burner. Walker also crafted one hell of a beat for this track. He hits you off with a combo of rock and hip hop that is perfect for the emcees to jump in on.
Raising The Bar does just that when it comes to upping the ante for the rest of the artists in the game. Not only is there that the bragadoccio NYC hip hop flavor on this album but you also get that introspective hip hop. On Thinking Out Loud, Jak D speaks on the topic of war among others and on Looking For You he addresses his relationship with God. The latter track is one that truly gets the listener thinking. It’s an excellent example of an emcee relaying his thoughts logically but not coming off to preachy or holier than thou. This is just the man’s thoughts. In the end, the album, and Cold Heat in general, epitomize everything that is good in hip hop. It’s a combination of that old school boom bap steepened in NYC lore and a new level of lyricism that will challenge the duos contemporaries to pick up the pace.