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Before I Awoke

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Album Review

Despite how it appears, Co$$, aka Co$$ Dollars aka Ca$hus King, is not actually obsessed with making money, or even really talking about it. Instead, the Leimert Park, California rapper's debut, Before I Awoke, is a broad, intelligent album that touches on topics like Co$$'s wavering religious beliefs (but abundance of spirituality), the women he loves and has loved, the city he lives in, his friends, and his struggles: in short, life. Co$$ has had guest slots on the some of the bigger Angeleno hip-hop albums in the past few years (Fashawn's Boy Meets World, Exile's Dirty Science and AM/FM, Blu and Mainframe's Johnson & Jonson), but Before I Awoke is truly his breakthrough: a smart, fluid record that very firmly establishes his place among his peers, and makes you want to hear more of what the man known to his mother as Troy Johnson has to say. Which isn't to say he just follows a blueprint. Co$$ is also a product of his generation and its easy and prolific access to everything and everyone, and he's knows his Slum Village and Tribe records, and doesn't mind incorporating other geographic areas' styles into his own. It's refreshing, actually. Because while Before I Awoke is very assuredly something born from California rap, complete with light jazzy samples (sometimes even venturing into spacy Georgia Anne Muldrow territory), weedy synths, and the occasional Nate Dogg-inspired singing, the MC clearly pays a huge debt to Atlanta, in particular the Dungeon Family, whose overall approach, not to mention to cadence (the similarity to André 3000 can be disconcerting), appears over and over again. This isn't cutting-edge hip-hop, but it isn't trying to be: it's solid, in the best sense of the word. Solid in the way that, no matter how many times you listen to Paid in Full or Reasonable Doubt or Ready to Die, it always sounds just as good. Before I Awoke is smart without being erudite, hard without being brutal; it's an album you can play in the full light of day or late on a rainy night, in Los Angeles as easily as Ohio or Mississippi or New York. In short, a complete success.

Before I Awoke, Co$$
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  • $9.99
  • Genres: Hip-Hop/Rap, Music, Rap
  • Released: Jun 21, 2011
  • Parental Advisory

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