When I talked to Capone-N-Noreaga last February, Capone tried to justify their Ron Browz-produced crossover single:
Music today — they censor music so much that you have to make the thuggest record commercial to some extent. To get your albums in certain stores, your shit gotta be squeaky clean, because that’s just where music is at right now.
“Rotate” had a lot of people looking at CNN askew, but The War Report 2 is completely free of such unfortunate compromises. Intended as a sequel to their debut, The War Report 2 looks to duplicate the success of Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… Pt. II, the only commercially successful throwback rap album in recent memory. Raekwon, who appears on three songs, actually acts as executive producer on WR2, lending CNN his excellent ear for street ballads.
The album is refreshing because CNN stick to what sets them apart: their glorious lack of subtlety. No facades. In a welcome nod to early New York gangsta rap, Capone and Nore romanticize life on the streets without any excess theatrics. Besides the intro, which ascribes audio from a war documentary to life on the streets, the only real exception is “The Oath,” whose mafioso concept makes it sound like Rae passed them Cuban Linx leftover, but not in a bad way. The street single “Thug Planet” turns a “Planet Rock” sample into the soundtrack of an urban nightmare. Capone-N-Nore’s dynamic works better than ever as Capone is a surprisingly proficient technical rapper and Nore manages to be a street rapper and a parody of a street rapper at the same time (“Big loads of a fishscale / Guns from Israel / Dude named Ishmael / Told me that his shit sell.”).
The closest they come to a radio track on their new album is the Faith Evans-assisted single “Hood Pride,” which despite the sung hook and anthemic beat, doesn’t make any overly gimmicky stabs at radio play. Chalk it up to Raekwon’s influence or a legitimate desire to keep it all the way gutter this time; either way, The War Report 2 is this year’s raw, uncut New York rap album.
Also: the “Thug Planet” video.