Rap / Hip-Hop

Sentenced 4 Life

Artist: DJ Mista Smoke4

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


            Some time ago, I reviewed Project Prince, a 12-track showcase of Bronx native DJ Mista Smoke’s music.  A graduate of the “School of Hard Knocks” as well as South Carolina State University, DJ Mista Smoke has used his Masters Degree in Public Administration to his advantage, using what he has learned on the streets and in school to get his music circulated.  Frustrated by the workings of the music industry, DJ Mista Smoke decided to take matters into his own hands, selling over 300,000 CDs independently via hand-to-hand distribution on the subways of New York City

            No slouch in the business department, DJ Mista Smoke knows that the only way to promote his music is to keep things fresh.  Choosing from his large stock of music, DJ Mista Smoke now presents Sentenced 4 Life.  This album is quite a bit different from the last.  The first difference I noticed was the use of sampling as background and sometimes introductions for some of the album’s tracks.  Another difference is that this album seems to be a bit more hardcore than the last.

            While DJ Mista Smoke’s music still seems to send a positive message on some tracks like Slippin and Ghettos Today.  The messages there are quite clear - yes, life can be tough, but with hard work and perseverance, greatness can be achieved regardless of the circumstances you have come from.  But then there are songs like Lock Me Up which sends a mixed message.  One moment he is promoting the idea of staying away from illegal means of making money, the next he’s saying he’s not afraid of the po-po and taunting them.  While I can appreciate Smoke’s anger at police harassment, I feel there is a different way to express it than in a taunting fashion.  Smoke must remember that many kids may listen to his music and he has to be careful to send the right message through his music.

            In fact, the whole album seems to be a mixed message.  That’s not to say that the music isn’t solid.  In fact, I rather enjoyed the sampling added to the music mixes.  In fact, I couldn’t help but laugh at the Katt Williams stand-up comedy samples about weed found at the beginning and end of 4Free.  Some of the lyrics are great, too.  I just wish that the overall message Sentenced 4 Life sent was as positive as the last album DJ Mista Smoke produced.  I can’t say I hated Sentenced 4 Life, but I can say that I was turned off by it at times.


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