“The Formula” is the follow-up to one of the greatest underground grime albums of all time, 2005’s
“Chemistry.” Before I get into the meat of the review, I’ll get this out: No, it’s not as good as
“Chemistry.” But that album is a classic. And “The Formula” can sit proudly beside it on any headz shelf.
After the intro track, which has a good groove but doesn’t go anywhere, the album jumps into “Ready
(Brand New Day),” which has chipmunk funk on the hook but otherwise features 9th Wonder’s usual inspirational, laid back beats.
The big change here is in Buckshot. He’s still got the same low-key flow (he never shouts, never raises his voice, never spits quick or urgent), but his message isn’t as gritty as it has been in the past.
In fact, quite a few songs border on RnB. But Buck proves himself to be versatile–he’s no Cool J. These are more real–they’re not smooth talking raps, they’re just songs about relationships, and the lyrics are powerful enough to keep the album tight. It’s not gangsta, not at all. In fact, calling it “The Formula” seems intentionally ironic: There’s absolutely nothing formulaic here.
It’s quite a refreshing surprise.
For those who don’t know, producer 9th Wonder is from Little Brother (and also produced “Honey” off the wonderful new Erykah Badu album) and rapper Buckshot is affiliated with Black Moon and Boot Camp Clik. But you really should know that already. Most of “The Formula” is Buck, but there are some excellent cameos and supporting works by Swan, Carlitta Durand, Talib Kweli, and others.