Beanie Sigel’s The B. Coming: Gangster Rapper Get’s More Intropective

From his introduction in the rap game, Beanie Sigel has unintentionally portrayed himself as your average, everyday gangsta rapper. Although he showed momentary glimpses of lyrical greatness on his first two albums, The Truth and The Reason, more often than not, Beanie resorted to spewing tired, played-out gangsta/thug/hustler clich�©s, glorifying that type of lifestyle as not so much the best way to live, but in his world, and from his limited POV, the only way to live.

With songs such as “What A Thug About”, “Ride 4 MyâÂ?¦”, “Watch Your B!tch @ss” and “Gangsta, Gangsta”, it was easy to discern that Beanie relished in this type of lifestyle and also took pride in the fact that he could essentially live an illegal/extralegal lifestyle without condemnation or punishment from society. Fundamentally, he was a prime example of black masculinity in America; being able to live your life however you want and have society reward you for it. Beanie Sigel was proud of being able to have his cake and eat it too.

But inevitably, the lifestyle he so smugly glorified would unsurprisingly play the key role in his downfall. His illegal/extralegal activities placed Beanie in a precarious situation that caused him to have an obvious momentary lapse of sanity (in a nutshell – dude threw a gun out the window), thus being caught red-handed dancing on the outskirts of the law. Thus, society rewarded him in a very apropos manner; stripping him of his freedom through means of imprisonment.

With his impending incarceration hung squarely in front of him, the recent turn of events shifted Beanie’s lyrical perception into more pensive, reflective territory, resulting in the 15 songs shaping his third release, The B. Coming. With him using his artistic freedom and freedom of speech on his last two releases to glorify the same lifestyle that ultimately cost him his actual freedom, it’s left to reason if Beanie still holds such a way of life in the same high esteem or if he realizes the aftereffects of its treacherousness aren’t worthwhile after all.

One listen to the record proves that it’s a resounding both. The first two tracks seemingly indicate that Beanie’s learned the error of his ways. On lead single, Feel It In The Air, Heavy D. uses a Raphael Ravenscroft sample to create a terse, haunting backdrop that perfectly complements and reflects Beanie’s morose lyricism. At one time, Beanie proclaimed how he would gladly ride and/or die for the ones populating his inner circle. But here, he voices his suspicions as to the true intentions of his inner circle while also pondering all the suspicions he harbors against all the things in his atmosphere that potentially threaten his freedom and well-being.

With Melissa’s angelic vocal assistance, Beanie created his single most reflective, meditative, and greatest lyrical masterpiece to date. He continues the learning process with the self-explanatory I Can’t Go On This Way. Against a subtly soulful backdrop provided by Aqua, Beanie reflects on the benefits of his hustling lifestyle, and how he views it to be his most advantageous and tangible means for providing for his family, but also voices his disgust with the risks involved and how dead-end he realizes that course of life is. Nearly ruined by feeble cameos from Freeway and Young Chris, Beanie’s adept verse and the production keep this record (barely) afloat.

Then the next two tracks prove that old habits truly do die hard, if they die at all. Both One Shot Deal and Gotta Have It both suggest that Beanie still hasn’t learned what playing with fire can do and continually sticks his hands out over the treacherous flame. On “One Shot”, Redman lyrically steals the track away from Beanie, rocking Bink’s horn-laden rhythm like a veteran, as both of them discuss the art of a perfect kill – ‘one shot, one kill’.“Gotta Have It”, follows and fares even worse. Chad West’s production has a nice kick to it but the rap triumvirate that is Beanie, Twista, and Peedi Crakk pee all over it, concocting lopsided rhymes that never truly inform the listener of what they have to have. Ultimately, it falls flatter than an open 7-Up left overnight in the fridge.

And Beanie quickly puts things back on the right track with second single, Don’t Stop. Containing the Neptunes smoothest production of the year thus far, and an equally smooth hook by Snoop, Beanie’s mellow vocal tone and cadence pace the song well and makes the tired thugged-out, gangstafied lyricism enjoyable for a change. The enjoyment continues on the ode to the beverage of choice for employees of the trade, Purple Rain. Scratch’s atmospheric production executes the soulful, vinyl appeal perfectly and Beanie and Bun B’s detailed description of the usage and effects of the ever-popular ‘sizzurp’ match the production well, creating a quite intoxicating jam itself.

No matter the lifestyle of choice, thugs need love too, but Beanie clarifies the kind of love they need on Oh Daddy. Boola creates a soulfully R&B backdrop for Beanie to wax poetic on as he chastises his woman for not clarifying where her loyalty lied and not appreciating the lifestyle Beanie lives, seeing as how such a lifestyle provided them with all their possessions. Not rocket science in the form of lyricism, and another anemic cameo from Young Chris, it’s an average track with a decent concept that Beanie will explore to a greater effect later on in the album. But instead of placing the two collinear tracks back-to-back, he interrupts the flow of them with the contemplative Change.

Ty Fiffe skillfully chops up the heartbreaking strings from the Sam Cooke classic “A Change Is Gonna Come” and creates a heartrending backdrop for Beanie to flex his lyrical muscles, seeing him reassure his lady that their hard-knock lifestyle will soon come to an end. He acknowledges that his way of life isn’t the easiest one to live but how patience with it will bring forth worthwhile results. This here represents a slightly mitigating side of Beanie, him rationalizing that the lifestyle which stripped away his freedom is the same lifestyle that will ensure the freedom of those closest to him. A bit of self-delusion mixed with a bit of self-acceptance and truth makes for one of the album’s most powerful moments.

Still, Bread & Butter, should’ve pursued “Oh Daddy.” It would’ve been a smooth transition as Beanie went from slightly upset at his woman’s disloyal actions to now completely spiteful, chastising himself for not “seeing the Robin Givens” in his lady to castigating her for trying to screw him over. Just Blaze’s thematic production complements Beanie’s angst well, and aside from the unnecessary Sadat-X and Grand Puba cameos, another surprising highlight from Beans. Even more so is Beanie’s most introspective, reflective moment on the record, Lord Have Mercy.

Ruggedness creates a somber backdrop that moves Beanie to search deep inside and examine his thought processes, leading this record to be the exact moment when Beanie realizes just how detrimental the course of life he’s lead could potentially be to his life come Judgment Day. He first attempts to explain, rationalize, and justify his actions – “I do my dirt so my kids see heaven on earth” – before realizing that God may not be swayed with such lofty explanations, thus driving him to essentially beg for future mercy – “I got my lessons ready, hoping I learn them before I’m laid to rest and buriedâÂ?¦I pray that Allah have mercy when my day comes around”. A part of Beanie seems to realize it might be too little, too late but when he makes such a convincing, heartfelt plea as this one, you can’t help but think that Beanie might have just changed for the better.

However, once the album peaks there, it hits the ‘cruise control’ and kinda coasts down the lanes of average and below average towards its end. Just when you believe Beanie’s transformed into a changed man, he hits us with Flatline. Bragging about putting various dudes on life support is a tired concept, not helped by either Beanie’s uneventful delivery, Peedi’s anemic performance, or Boola’s shoddy production.

I believe Tales of A Hustler, Pt. 2 is Beanie’s once-and-for-all answer that even with the bitter effects he’s experienced at the hands of his extralegal lifestyle, the tired clichÃ?© of ‘once a hustler, always a hustler’ still proves true. Still, it’s hard to believe with such narcoleptic production and more tired rhymes from Beanie, Oschino, and Sparks. Look At Me Now is Beanie’s obligatory ‘rags-to-riches’ story, benefiting more from Rell’s soulful backing vocals and Buckwild’s rather simplistic production than it does from Beanie’s choppy flow.

It’s On is Beanie’s collabo with Roc leader, Jay-Z. Against the laidback Spike & Jamal production, Beanie and Jay interact with tales of relishing in the hustler lifestyle, almost looking as Beanie is trying to gain justification for his way of life. It also wants to serve as a commemoration track, with Jay passing the proverbial Roc-A-Fella crown on – “if my life is a movie, then Sigel be the sequel” – to a still undeserving Beanie. The album ends with Beanie and Cam’Ron reinterpreting the Bon Jovi classic, “Wanted Dead or Alive” on Wanted. Neckbones creates an real smooth and catchy backdrop for Beanie to tell his story of his desperate attempts to elude the police, detailing the toll it took on him physically, mentally, and emotionally. He delivers well on the promise of greatness and Cam’Ron is a surprisingly adept assistant. Not the best way to end the record, at least it does end the record with positive thoughts of Beanie in one’s mind.

The B. Coming paints the perfect picture of a man torn between choosing to risk his freedom by lifestyle choices or choosing to ensure his freedom by making lifestyle changes. It’s clear that Beanie’s seen the harsh error of his ways but at the same time, it’s clear that he cannot completely abandon such a lifestyle. He’s been engaged in such bad behavior for so long, and seeing such bad behavior being positively reinforced by acceptance in society, that it’s created a comfort zone for Beanie that he’s apprehensive about deserting.

You actually sense Beanie’s scared of becoming a productive member of society by following the straight and narrow since his previous lifestyle is all he knows, or wants to know. He used mostly on-point production, mostly above-average lyrics, and WAY too many guest appearances to get his biggest point across; he might eventually regain his physical freedom but he’ll never truly be freed from the inner prison that his personal demons keep him in. His vices still haven’t revealed themselves to be more helpful or harmful to him so he seems content with relying on getting by the best way he can for as long as he can; both physically and lyrically. He’s still an underachieving rapper who’ll never fully realize his potential until he makes a decision about the course he wants to take.

Beanie Sigel came to his demons. Beanie Sigel saw his demons. Beanie suffered the consequences of dealing with his demons. But Beanie Sigel has decided he’ll conquer his demons some other day.

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