Big Shug Who's Hard?

After years of appearing on Gang Starr Foundation records Big Shug has finally dropped an album. He has never been mistaken for being a lyrical genius, instead his appeal lies in his hard rock persona as evidenced by the album title. As he did with Group Home about a decade ago, DJ Premier attempts to reconcile the lyrical deficiencies of the MC by contributing the bulk of the album’s production. With additional knob-twiddling by the Alchemist, Big Shug definitely isn’t wanting on the production end. However, his margin for error on the mic is razor-thin. When he strays from the production of either Premier or the Alchemist, the results are underwhelming. He does trot out a crooning alter-ego and a fixation with the NFL, but ultimately Big Shug’s rhyme topics rarely stray from braggadocio. These were fine in small doses on his cameos, but he just isn’t a resourceful enough MC to stretch this over the course of an entire record. There is some strong material here like "Who (Got My Back)” and "Tha 3 Shugs,” but the album ultimately only really appeals to DJ Premier completists. (Sure Shot)