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Artist: Erick Onasis
Album: Def Squad presents Erick Onasis
Label: Universal
Production: Erick Sermon, DJ Scratch
Guests: Ja Rule, Slick Rick, Redman, Keith Murray, PMD, DJ Quick, Too Short, XZibit, others
Stats: 2000; 16 tracks
Reviewed by: Mass Dosage

The green-eyed bandit adopts a rather pretentious pseudonym for this compilation-styled album which has an even more pretentious marketing tagline, "...where production is everything". Sadly this only builds the listener up for disappointment as Erick delivers more or less what we have come to expect from him in the past, not something that pushes the production game to a whole new level. The name may have changed, but this is standard Erick Sermon production, nothing more, nothing less. After a rather pointless introlude, the album gets off to a good start with "I do 'em" followed by "Don't get gassed" which is solid, if not amazing. From this point on, all the tracks feature guest artists, with the mixed results that this often leads to.

Slick Rick is rather disappointing on "Why not" with its nonsensical chorus, and the tracks with the Def Squad, Ja Rule and Too Short cover no new ground. DJ Quick and Xzibit do a good job of transforming "Focus" from a stereotypical West-coast sounding joint into a credible track. Redman is another star of the show, shining wherever he is featured. Eazy E's voice is resurrected on "So sweet" and his flow actually complements the track very well, something that is not often achieved with posthumous appearances. "Sermon" is a surprisingly personal interlude where Erick professes his faith in Jesus before the listener - this humble honesty is something sadly lacking in much of today's Hip-Hop and certainly got my attention. The posse track "Vangundy" brings PMD into the mix, along with a bunch of new jacks, and unfortunately falls short of expectations - maybe the sparse beat wasn't enough to inspire any of the MC's to really rip it.

"Erick Onasis" has its moments, but it teaches a lesson that Erick should have learnt from his 2 solo releases: every time he has tried to produce an entire album on his own, he ends up with a mixed bag of high points, low points and a lot of mediocrity. This is in no way a weak release and it proves once again that Erick is a competent, if somewhat overhyped producer, who is capable of producing gems when so inspired. Maybe he should stick to singles and cuts on other people's albums where he is forced to deliver tracks that are so tight that they truly stand out. [6/10]

[An edited version of this review was also published in SL magazine]

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