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After Taxes

Sheek Louch

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Album Review

There's a refreshing moment during "On the Road Again" where LOX member Sheek Louch admits his last album didn't do well, but it's back to the drawing board, this time the independent label drawing board where there's more freedom. Without this freedom, the great "45 Minutes to Broadway" probably wouldn't have the quirky, hypnotic Havoc-produced loop it does, or the sleazy swagger of "One Name" probably wouldn't be as irresponsible as it is (although the seduction-oriented track with Carl Thomas as guest does go against the album's opening declaration that Sheek is so free there will be "no R&B"). Frequent target 50 Cent gets a proper thrashing on "Maybe If I Sing," a track that's triumphantly vicious or simply amusing depending on whether or not you take the D-Block versus G-Unit war to heart. All these tracks make After Taxes a filling, winningly diverse street album, but it's the infectious "Kiss Your Ass Goodbye" that really makes the album pop, partly because Beanie Sigel delivers a line about feeding and burping his disrespectful protégés, but mostly because of Sheek's snide verses and extremely catchy chorus. Topping it off is Ghostface's cool boasting on "Movie Niggaz" as the man brags about having "Enron money" over the Alchemist's soulful production. Skits that are funny and an endless parade of wry putdowns and pop culture references that deserve a laugh out loud are all contrasted with bleak, vivid verses that are primal rage and provocative (leaving your enemy's dead body where his children play isn't even the worst of it). It's an interesting, uncompromising combination that suggests Sheek is a more complicated artist than given credit for, but the bile and thugging that make the album so street and independent is intense enough to alienate gangsta detractors. There is an overall feeling the tracks could have been ordered in a more sensible way, but After Taxes handily beats his solo debut while giving the LOX faithful something to bump as they enter their fifth year of waiting for the crew's return.

Biography

Born: 08 November 1975 in Yonkers, NY

Genre: Hip-Hop/Rap

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Sheek Louch united with childhood friends Jadakiss and Styles to form the LOX, and the trio in turn signed with Bad Boy in the late '90s. The LOX appeared on numerous Bad Boy-affiliated songs as guests and even released an album of their own, Money, Power & Respect (1998), which yielded a hit single of the same name. The LOX left Bad Boy soon afterward to join the Ruff Ryders camp, where the trio's style of hardcore rap fit better alongside other rugged rappers such as DMX. There, the LOX released...
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