The 17th – Inside Jokes With Complete Strangers (2014)
Artist: The 17th
1. Intro (Prod by the 17th)
2. Look Away (Ft. Rock of Heltah Skeltah)(Prod by the 17th)
3. I Wreak Havoc (Ft. Havoc of Mobb Deep)(Prod by the 17th)
4. Thirsty (Ft. Spoke In Wordz)(Prod by Fantom of the Beat)
5. Don’t Care (Ft. Joell Ortiz & HollaAtcha Gwalla)(Prod by Louie Rock)
6. Used to Love U (Ft. Skyzoo)(Prod by Relavant Beats)
7. God’s Away on Business (Ft. Elise 5000)(Prod by the 17th)
8. Bundle @f St!cks (Prod by the 17th)
9. In My Mind (Prod by Anonymous)
10. Chest Tube (Ft. Seven)(Prod by the 17th)
11. Push (Prod by the 17th & Josh Johnson)
12. Hold My Own (Ft. Cortez, Livin Proof, HollaAtcha Gwalla, Zay G)(Prod by Anonymous)
13. Neglect (Ft. Rich Alomar)(Prod by the 17th)
14. My Drug (Prod by the 17th & Josh Johnson)
15. I Am God (Prod by the 17th)
16. New World Order (Prod by the 17th)
The 17th released his album, Inside Jokes With Complete Strangers, around a couple of months or so ago and I have taken my sweet time reviewing but it certainly deserves notice and recognition. The 17th is lauded on this site for his unorthodox wordplay and topic selection. He has a tendency to take the craft to higher limits with his conversational style and dynamic wordplay.
One of the illest tracks of the year occurs on the second track of the album, Look Away. Rock from Heltah Skeltah stops by to drop a sixteen in between The 17th’s verses. The first thing that will leave you hooked on this song is going to be the sick beat. The guitar lick on this joint is simply addictive. It won’t leave your head for a few days after listening. The great part about this aspect of the song is that it was produced by The 17th himself, securing his space as one of the better producers out there right now, but assuredly not getting the credit he deserves. Meanwhile as the beat and rhythm hook you in, the bars and delivery by the two emcees keep you locked into the track. Classic material.
Right after Look Away we are instantly treated to another banger when Havoc of Mobb Deep rips off some bars for the track I Wreak Havoc. And certainly I mean no offense to Havoc, but no one is going to outshine The 17th on his own track. The production serves some semblance to the soundtrack of The Omen. It’s dark choir music combined with a braggodocio rhyme appeal. There is much to like here.
Don’t Care features fellow wordsmith Joell Ortiz. It’s a track that we have featured here before but upon further inspection of the bars dropped, it too deserves more attention. The 17th and Joell Ortiz ride a production that is heavily infused with the horns by Louie Rock. Here is a snippet of The 17th’s verse which in truth doesn’t give the effort true justice
You heard a around, how I am awesome / And heard my tracks when you were high and lost it / And it makes you nervous, cuz I’m getting closer to blowing up like I’m running towards the finish line in Boston / Someone told me these kids can spit now / And ask me if I still hold the crown in this town? / Honestly, I don’t like putting other kids down / For no reason, but since you asked IS SHIT BROWN? / When chicks piss do they sit down? / When it snows do the fucking roads get plowed? / Does Chris Brown know how to beat a bitch down? / Does a pit growl? / Was John Bobbit’s fucking dick found?…
The best productions from the album come from The 17th himself which speaks volumes, but that was in some respects expected after hearing his self-produced EP, FREE MUSIC, a couple of years ago. It’s evident that The 17th shines in many different arenas when it comes to the music, but perhaps where he shines brightest is on an intellectual level. It’s tracks like God’s Away On Business that truly separate him from the rest of the pack. There are lots of great rhymers and producers but not very many are challenging the listeners on an intellectual level. On the aforementioned track he challenges a belief system with not just baseless comments, but with a high level of thought. Some might claim that he is merely pushing buttons, but I would disagree. Many of us have debated the existence of the divine after something terrible has happened to our lives. Why would a just God allow it? The 17th was just talented enough to take this eternal debate into the music world. After listening to his other material, The 17th tackles difficult topics because he too finds the material interesting in challenging. He is not afraid to push those limits. He is capable where others prove unwilling or inept.
This album is a dichotomy. It is accessible and challenging all in one dose. It is a bridge between the boom-bap that all heads know and love into intellectual and emotion-evoking music. In a music industry that often misses the point in the capacity of power that music can hold, The 17th once again hits the nail on the head.