December 09, 2022

Knoc‐Turn'Al - The Way I Am (2004)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hip-Hop
Style: Gangsta Rap
Label Number: 62928-2

© 2004 Elektra Records
During the early 2000s, the West Coast rap scene had long fallen off, relative to its mid-'90s golden age at least. There was occasional hope for renewed brighter days, though. One of the West Coast's brightest hopes was Knoc-Turn'al, an inimitable Los Angeles rapper with strong ties to Cali elite such as Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre, the latter of whom Knoc had songwritten for, most notably the summer 2001 anthem "Bad Intentions." Beyond doubt Knoc is a jack of most rap trades -- he can not only rap, and do so with striking wit (if not dexterity), but he can also croon his own hooks, write full-fledged songs, and resemble Snoop's more colorful characteristics better than most. His well-crafted debut album, The Way I Am, showcases these talents at length. Clearly Knoc knows the rules of the game: he reps Cali and its attendant laid-back lifestyle to no end; showcases well his ties to the Golden State's finest (note especially "What We Do," a standout posse track); and includes an excellent lead single, "The Way I Am," that does what an ideal rap lead single should do -- it (re)introduces him and all he stands for to listeners with aplomb, in this case aided greatly by a powerful Scott Storch production, a supercool Snoop accreditation, and a fun-in-the-sun video to boot. It's a great single. It really is, which makes it somewhat frustrating that the rest of the album isn't quite on par. As aforementioned, The Way I Am is indeed well crafted and Knoc is indeed talented, but many of the songs here just don't come across like they should. In fact, the album is too well crafted, to the point that it often feels overly labored. Knoc's relentless wit can sometimes seem ham-handed, especially after repeated listens, and his more thoughtful moments (like the first song, "War" -- a roundabout political musing) seem at odds with his oft-misogynistic formalisms (he is a West Coast rapper, after all). If you can overlook (or underlook) these minor issues of character, there's plenty to savor here on The Way I Am, chiefly the title track as well as the Timbaland-produced "Have Fun." This is easily one of the more interesting and accomplished West Coast albums in years. It's no four-star effort, but it still shows much promise and bodes well, not only for Knoc's future but the entire West Coast's.

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tags: knocturnal, knoc turn al, the way i am, 2004, flac,