The Product -- One Hunid (Underground Railroad/Koch)

Album Review by Garrett Caples
San Francisco Bay Guardian June 14, 2006

A multiregional force composed of Houston legend Scarface, Young Malice of Jackson, Miss., and the Fillmore District's own Will Hen, the Product is one of the more intriguing new groups in hip-hop. One Hunid is that ultimate rarity: a conscious album made by hood rappers for hood consumption, rather than for the backpack circuit. ’Face's list of thug credentials is as long as anyone's — stretching back to the Geto Boys — so his commitment to such a project is of genuine worth; he reaches a vast segment of inner-city youth who are deaf to the more substantial critiques of, say, the Coup.

Perhaps inevitably, the consciousness on One Hunid is limited to a sense of consequences: "I wasn't trying to kill that man; he was in my way/And now I'll never see the light of day," intones Hen, suggesting fear of prison more than a realignment of values. Consciousness is also apparently for men, as little distinguishes the Product's talk of "bitches" from your average thug's. I've been told by rappers who know that this approach is a necessary exercise in spoon-feeding, but it's hard to recall 2Pac songs like "Keep Ya Head Up" and not wonder if there isn't another way.

Ultimately a record stands or falls on musical merit, and One Hunid doesn't disappoint. The rappers have heat — Hen arguably outshines Scarface himself. Oakland producer and longtime ’Face collaborator Tone Capone, who had a hand in the group's development, contributes five modern-day mob tracks, which serve as a useful reminder that there's more to Bay Area rap than just hyphy.

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