If music has no other ability it most certainly has the ability to hold nostalgia. We all have our favorite songs and more often than not they are attached to some of our greatest memories. Whether it be something you and your friends share, maybe even the music your parents used to play, songs get tied to memories.
For Wichita, Kansas representative Bilistic his favorite moments in music occured during the 90’s and early 2000’s. “The 90’s made me want to be a rapper”, says Bilistic about the era. This deep rooted inspiration caused him to dive head in with the time period in specific for his newest album “Nothing but Classics”.
“To give you a little insight I have been doing music for 22 years. After so long it stops being fun and becomes more like a job, so I had to take it back to when music was pure enjoyment for me. Which was when I was a kid, in the 90’s. I decided to reinvent a bunch of tracks from that era which made me want to be an emcee in the first place. Along with producers Wild Bill & Gabriel Alexander, we re invented 20 of my most influential songs. We made the beats from scratch, no samples were used. Everything was done in house. The beats, the writing, the recording, the mixing, & even the music videos. Bilistics own indie label, New Life Records does it all!”
Things kick off with Juice-E featuring Parker Lawson, a remake of Biggie’s classic gem “Juicy”. It was a good kick off with such a familiar first verse getting a modern update. Perfect tone-setter for things to come.
Foxy B. and A.m. appear on “Ain’t A Party”. In particular Foxy B. shines for me personally. I loved her flow on the track and loved that, along with A.m., the women MC’s weren’t left out of the party here. This isn’t to say the song isn’t good as a whole but I had to commend her raps here.
One of my favorites as I grew up was Bone Thug’s “Thuggish Ruggish Bone” so I was happy it got the remake nod. Keeping it true to the original vibe of the song Bilistic attacks the record with the rapid flow. Lou Siffa and Drako follow suit as Ebonee holds down the melodic hook.
It’s time to get extra player and pull out the furs and gator shoes as “Mo Po Pimp” comes next. Again Bilistic flexes his lyrical dexterity with the quick bars. Hollywood Dre is perfect as the opener on the single as DeVeous and Smallz round things out.
The feel-good nature of the album thus far shifts a bit on “No Sunshine”. If you’re remaking one of DMX’s best you’d better come strong and that’s just what Bilistic and Feddi Chico do here. The emotions are very personal with lines like “Funeral services, losing family and friends left and right. Life just seems purposeless.” Lyrics like these stick to the rib and make you think.
The good vibes return on “Players Play” with Jackson Gant appearing while DeVeous and Smallz unite with Bilistic a second time. Here an optimistic look on life is the major message. That’s always a good thing to remember.
Bilistic takes the opportunity to get introspective once more on “Life Goes On”. On this one he talks about his life from a first person perspective. The pressure he deals with on a day to day basis as a man and a father makes for the topic of his first verse. On the latter verse his love of rap and how he has maintained his desire for it at the age of 39 is explained.
If you’ve never been to the players club the next record on “Nothing but Classics” is the one for you. Freddi Chico and Young Eighto join Bilistic to paint a vivid picture of their depiction of the mythical location. This leads into “Dope Man Dope Man”. It’s here where the personification of the dealer is realized in music form.
The west coast bounce on “There’s A Blue Bird” will have you in tune instantly. I will be honest and admit this remake was one I was not originally familiar with. In doing my research though not only did I enjoy this version but also RBL Posse’s original track that inspired it.
Paying homage to the south, next is “I Ain’t Ever Scared”. The Bone Crusher single was definitely one I heard a lot growing up so I’m happy to see it included here. One of the later released songs that are reimagined on this album, Bilistic, Satilla Sts and Foxy B do a great job over the beat.
“What’s Love” gives the needed chance to address the women and deliver something softer for them. Ebonee again shines in her role as a contributing vocalist.
“Pass Me The Green” follows and as you might imagine focuses on a particular vice. “Hay” comes behind as we officially reach the smoker’s section of “Nothing but Classics”. In particular the later struck me as again they bring strong bars over a song that was a childhood staple for me. I was in my high school’s band and “Smokin on Hay” was even my favorite song to play at that time. It’s impossible to sound bad on that instrumental.
Ja Rule gets a nod with “Holla” reaching back to one of his biggest hits. Bilistic makes him proud with one of my favorite flow’s of his on the entire album. He weaves in and out of several different cadences and I’m a sucker for things like that.
“You Bout It, I’m Bout It” sees the inspiration of No Limit’s massive movement shine through. “Bout It” is one of those instrumentals that are instantly recognizable not only because of its status as a hit but it’s nonchalant sound. Bilistic calls on Yung JFK and Flick Drank as they all prove they are “bout” the action here.
In listening to “Nothing but Classics” I realized I gravitate towards the moments where Bilistic delves into his inner mind and let us into his life. “My Dearest Momma” is a perfect representation of that. The Tupac remake allows for us to learn more about Bilistic’s upbringing as he pens a letter to the lady who raised him. This was one of my favorites of the entire album.
Reef Sosa and King Prodigy show up just in time for a club banger in “Won’t You Back That Ass Up”. I’ve argued that the Cash Money original is one of if not the biggest rap single ever, so it makes since that it was not ignored here.
We reach the back end of “Nothing but Classics” with “Going Down”. This is the second track of the album I couldn’t recognize the inspiration of at first. That being said I did enjoy it as Bilistic and Breeze Blanco turn in strong performances. $woop contributes with an unorthodox flow that sticks out in the mind.
“Wiggy” marks the end of the album and acts as the outro. In full honesty this one was not one of my favorites, although it is not necessarily a bad track. In my opinion it would have been better suited for a different place on the album. Then again I am a stickler for closing things out with a clear conclusion. Still I can see people liking the record as Bilistic and Moe Vibez do some good rapping in their verses.
All things considered I loved the overall concept of “Nothing but Classics”. The music we grow up to is imprinted in our spirits whether we wish to admit it or not. They hold value to certain memories in which we will never forget. I commend Bilistic for bringing this to life.
Also I want to let him know it is not an easy task to touch classic records. Not every artist can do what he accomplished here and not sound as if they are forcing things or trying to ride the wave created by each record. Instead he breathes new life into the tracks and does them with his own swagger. Even more impressive is the amount of featured artists he is able to bring along for the ride. Be sure to check this album out and the rest of his extensive self-produced catalog at http://www.bilisticmusic.com/.
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