Theodore Unit


(Sure Shot; 2004)

By Chet Betz | 8 November 2007

Tony Starks’ posse came at me.

Cilvaringz rolls the vinyl on his fingertips and lets the strings slide out the grooves; Ghostface heats the microphone into the red with his sandblast spit on “Guerilla Hood.” Ghostface, Method Man, Streetlife and Trife shoot verses sideways over Self’s soul-salted percussion on “The Drummer.” And on “Wicked With Lead” and “Paychecks,” Ghostface and Trife rhyme for the high rates over sunny K Def beats. Recorded for Ghostface’s The Pretty Toney Album, these songs could and should have replaced “Ghostface,” “Tooken Back,” perhaps “Tush” and the skits. After such substitutions, the mind shudders to think at the concentrated goodness.

Trife made a strong impression with his verse on Pretty Toney’s hot butter “Biscuits.” On 718, Trife’s clearly the second-in-command for Theodore Unit. Anthony Acid charges a buzz with bleeping key presses and dark horn mirages while Trife keeps pace swiftly and smoothly on “Punch In Punch Out,” his limber limerick lines tightly sprayed, “I know that hustling is a strenuous job/ But if you see niggas getting money/ Why should you continue to starve?/ Especially if your only choice is to mortgage the yard/ But that’s even a better reason for the boy to go hard.” And it’s to Trife’s great credit that he’s not much outdone by Ghostface on the tracks they split: “‘88 Freestyle,” “Smith Brothers” (which would have been completely dope if it had stayed away from the chorus of “We Will Rock You”) and the aforementioned K Def productions. “Who Are We?” plays as another powerful Ghostface and Trife double team smack with the incredibly unfortunate caveman interjections of Bonecrusher.

Besides an appearance on album low point “Gatz,” Solomon Childs has three whole songs to himself. But why? The man’s flow jerks forward with lazy breath control, a loud obesity that sticks to the sweats. “Be My Girl” shines as the best of his solo stomps, and that’s all thanks to the feel-fucking-good beat by Milestone. Solomon’s tardy tongue wags wet. “By the way, where you from/ And can I come?/ You gigglin’, baby/ At the same time, jigglin’, baby…”

One sentence summaries should more than suffice for the other members of Theodore Unit. Privy to his own “Daily Routine,” Shawn Wigs sounds like the wigga version of Ghostface. Supposedly, Cappadonna raps on the horribly hooked “It’s The Unit.” Kryme Life gets his ass kicked by Trife on “Right Back.” And one would hope that Du-Lilv does something besides pose for the album cover. Of course, there’s “Pass The Mic,” the obligatory full posse cut, so Du-Lilv’s fifteen seconds surely drop in there somewhere.

But Tony Starks appears on ten of these tracks, and Tony Starks rightfully rules the Theodore Unit. “It’s a must that I take the streets back so fast/ Everybody thinking it’s not going to last/ I got bad news, bad news…”