Album Review | Phife Dawg – Ventilation: Da LP

This album was released on September 26th in the year of our Lord 2000. I’ve never really heard anyone talk about this album before. People just never seem to bring it up for whatever reason. It gives me the assumption that this isn’t gonna be that good of an album. It’s the only solo project Phife Dawg ever released before his death. I think someone close to Phife is putting together a posthumous album for him, so that might be good. This is all he ever gave us by himself tho. I’m surprised I didn’t hear more people talk about it around the time he passed away. It really must not be that good. Whatever. I’ll try to be optimistic.


Intro Feat. JUS Allah Ricks & Jason Chung
Flawless Hi-Tek
Alphabet Soup Hi-Tek
Miscellaneous Supa Dave West
D.R.U.G.S. Feat. Hi-Tek Hi-Tek
Tha Club Hoppa Rick Rock
Lemme Find Out Pete Rock
Ben Dova J Dilla
Beats, Rhymes & Phife Feat. Supa Dave West Hi-Tek
Ventilation Fredwreck
4 Horsemen (192 N’ It) Feat. Big Lo, Bay Lloyd & Snag J Dilla
Melody Adonis Pete Rock
Outro Feat. JUS Allah Ricks & Jason Chung

JUS kicks things off by singing over an acoustic guitar. It sounds pretty good. I guess it’s not really singing. He kinda does that half rapping, half singing shit that 6LACK does. I’m not in love with it, but I don’t think it’s bad at all. I did enjoy it to an extent. It just lasted a little too long for me.

Flawless

Phife’s flow is smooth as fuck on the first true song of the album. I’m not crazy about his delivery tho. The hook could be better too. Nothing about the track really pushes it up to the next level. If you’re a fan of A Tribe Called Quest you’ll enjoy it; it just won’t blow anyone away. Anyone who already knows what Phife could do won’t be amazed by it, but it’s dope.

Phife’s delivery on the song Alphabet Soup seems a little more aggressive than usual. Each verse is an alliterative demonstration, stressing the letters F, C, and U, respectively.

As I commence to set it off with this confident conglomerate
Consisting of concoctions we have carved up for you
My crew calmly stays consistent, but at the same time
We’re confused by the corny BS ya’ll listen to

I wasn’t feelin’ the fourth track. I didn’t like the hook, and the beat was pretty shitty too. The content didn’t interest me at all; it’s a typical party track about drinking and having sex.

Party over here, fuck y’all over there
Drinks on Malik; you live once, I don’t care
Love the night life like Sonny love Cher
Bound to take a shorty home, put her ass in the air

I didn’t really get the twist at the end of the second verse either.

Something ’bout her’s tricky
Looked at the bar; oh shit, it couldn’t be
The J to the A to the N to the E
You don’t understand? Ask EPMD

Jane is just some chick that Erick Sermon smashed, so I don’t really get it. Well, there are a shit ton of sequels to that song, and I’ve only heard the original, so I guess I’d probably understand it more if I’d heard the other songs in the series. Whatever. It don’t make me no difference. The shit is wack to me either way. So at this point I had already started seeing that this is pretty much just a regular Tribe album with weaker production and no Q-Tip, which I probably should’ve expected. If anything this album gave me a greater appreciation for Ali Shaheed Muhammad. I think he’s really under appreciated. People never really mention him whenever they’re talking about the best producers. Anyway, with all that said, the beat on D.R.U.G.S. is actually kinda nice.

Now life is only by the party
Ice is worn by everybody
But what are you saying lyrically? Come on, seriously
See, that’s what’s wrong with this motherfucking industry

I found this to be a pretty ironic sentiment considering the track that preceded it. The verse was dope overall tho. In the second verse, Phife claims to be more controversial than Adolf fucking Hitler. Has… Has Phife ever really been involved in any controversies? I mean, he might’ve gotten in some hot water due to a homophobic line or two, but that could be said about countless old school rappers. I’m not really sure why the song is called D.R.U.G.S. I liked the beat at first, but it got old after a while. It’s an okay track. It just lacks replay value for me. Once I reached track 6 I was pretty fuckin’ bored to be honest. Everything up to this point was really generic to me. It wasn’t necessarily bad; it just didn’t really stand out to me in any way. That unfortunately didn’t really change until I reached track 9. The Club Hoppa definitely houses one of the better beats on the album, but the content didn’t appeal to me at all.

Thank God it’s Friday
Where’s my check? Time to party
Phife night; I’m inviting everybody
Celebs galore, which will make the shortys come out
Ass anonymous; once I’m single, time to dumb out

“Ass Anonymous?” “ASS ANONYMOUS?” Yeah… Nah… It just felt like Miscellaneous with altered verses and less wack production. Some of the lines are really misogynistic too.

Big mouth chicks; to shut ’em up, we make ’em swallow

I wasn’t feelin’ the hook either. The song is wack. I was really hoping Pete Rock would come through and save this shit on track 7, but nah. That beat isn’t good. Pete Rock can do better. Phife rapped well on this first verse, but it just isn’t entertaining as a song. The production is boring. The hook is nothing special. Nothing about it stands out. I don’t think it’s bad; Phife’s flow was nice as hell on the second verse. It’s not good enough to make the song worth returning to tho. The skit at the beginning of the next track pissed me the fuck off. It has one of the best beats on the album, but the subject matter… It’s a frustrating track. J Dilla put his ass in that beat, but Phife just ends up rapping about fucking. The production is the song’s only saving grace. Everything else about it—even the title—is annoying to me. It’s not for me. I don’t like songs about that kinda shit. Track 9 has a pretty dope beat, and it has Phife reminiscing about his childhood. It’s not a super amazing song, but I like it. I don’t really have any complaints.

Growin up I spent my time with my nana; Mom was at work
Knew every verse of the Bible; I damn near lived in a church
Nana was 7th Day Adventist, those days I can’t forget
All day Saturday I have to wait until the sun set
Friends would knock on my door…

“Can Malik come out to play?”

“No hon, no way; not today, he has to pray.”

That sucks. My mom’s pretty religious, but she was thankfully never on the level of some of those other psychotic Jesus freak mothers. I’d be a hardcore satanist right now if that was the case. Anyway, the song isn’t that good, but I enjoyed it. It’s one of the few tracks on the album that I actually return to. The hook from Supa Dave West was good. He’s not a bad singer. After this song things really start picking up. The title track has one of the best beats on the album, and I love Phife’s belligerent lyricism. He killed that shit.

I’m shittin’ on rappers this year
Who the fuck claims they want some of this here?
Go ahead, show your face; shall I crush your shit now?
Say a smidgeon of a word, and I bust your shit down

This is the kinda shit I wanted to hear more of on this album. It’s dope af. I wasn’t familiar with any of the features on 4 Horsemen before listening to it. iTunes lists them as No Name. Is… Is No Name a group? Do Phife, Lo, Bay & Snag all make up No Name? Nah, probably not. I don’t know. It doesn’t really matter. Anyway, the song has the best beat on the album, and the features were all really good. I was expecting them to be trash for some reason. I was kinda surprised by how much better the last few songs are than the rest of the album. Bay Lloyd sounds like he could be Phife’s brother. That Snag guy is awesome, and Phife killed the last verse. The beat on track 12 is strange. I feel like it’d sound better without any vocals on it. The verses were all cool, and the scratches on the hook were pretty dope. I just can’t really fuck with it sonically. I wasn’t feelin’ the beat, and Phife didn’t do anything impressive enough to save the track for me. The outro is just JUS saying rest in peace to somebody named Malik. I couldn’t quite make out what his last name was. It’s actually kinda unsettling hearing it today. He obviously wasn’t talking about Phife, but still. It’s a strange coincidence.


This album is pure “meh.” For the most part the production is lackluster, and a lot of the songs just lack interesting content. The hooks are all pretty basic for the most part, and there’s only one track where the featured artists really impressed me. Phife was rapping well on a lot of these tracks, but a lot of the time he wasn’t good enough to make the music worth returning to. I totally understand why nobody ever talks about this album; it’s pretty fuckin’ boring to be honest. There are a handful of good songs, but for the most part it’s a super stale album. I can only really recommend giving this a serious listen if you’re a hardcore Phife Dawg fan. If not, it wouldn’t hurt to skim it, but you aren’t really missing out if you decide to skip it. It’s decent.
Favorite Song: 4 Horsemen
Least Favorite Song: Miscellaneous

C+

60-69

One comment

  1. I think Phife and Tip didn’t really know what directions to go in after the split. In Phife’s case wanted obviously to be more street/party oriented.

    I think this album wasn’t entirely bad. It’s just he didn’t have much direction in terms of what he wanted this project to be. It was just a collection of songs to put out there because fans thought they’d hear what was the cause of Tribe split. Instead we got this, it’s good if you’re cruising in your ride absentmindedly letting the beats bump. I feel like had he had an actual vision for what he was trying to get across, more people would have checked this out.

    It’s honestly a shame he never followed up with another solo project, because it really could have done better than this joint (especially since this project happened to be released when the rap behemoths ruling mainstream Hip Hop were Jay, Em and DMX.) Though I guess Phife liked being that special feature on other people’s projects.

    Good stuff Nick!

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