California Dreamin’ – X-Raided (Review)

26 years in the pen, 13 albums released while incarcerated and now a free man as of September 14th, 2018, Anerae Brown also known as X-Raided has been a controversial figure in West Coast Hip-Hop since his 1992 classic “Psycho Active.” X-Raided has been out for almost a year after serving 26 years for his involvement in the 1992 shooting of Patricia Harris and with his new freedom has birthed a new album, “California Dreamin’.” Since I dived into a big part of X’s past, let me fill you in on this, X-Raided is one of the greatest brothers from Sacramento, starting his career with fellow Sac-Town legend Brother Lynch Hung back in 1990. He was a 24th Street Garden Blocc Crip member and is straight raw, horror core with gangsta rap elements. Raided is so hard that for his 1992 debut album “Psycho Active” not only did X drop hints about the murder but it is alleged the .38 caliber revolver on the albums cover was the same gun used in the murder, the gun was never recovered. 26 years later now we have “California Dreamin”, is this album a fresh comeback for the gangsta rapper, let’s dive into the LP.

The album begins with “California Nightmare”, a introduction that has X talking over a heart rate monitor beeping and suddenly flat-lining at the end. “John Deere” follows, lyrical focus is on who X-Raided is and his hustle. The chorus is pretty good, this was overall a solid track. “Narcolepsy” sees X-Raided and Manjaroe show some love to Freddy Krueger, the whole song is Krueger themed and was a nice surprise, I especially love the title which is after a sleeping disorder. Track 4 titled “Death March” seems to be a insight on X’s prison time along with the effects of ones life after their death, some good horrorcore bars in here. The self-titled track follows that shows love to Tupac and his 1995 hit “California Love” and other artist as well. Good song, like the production a lot on this track especially. Oakland’s Yogi Calhoon joins X on “Get Off Me”, a hyphy track, good production from The Mekanix and trap bars. “Jackie Robinson (42)” is another dedication track that mainly focuses on Brooklyn Dodger icon and African American hero Jackie Robinson while showing love to other figures in the African community. “Truest Story Ever” featuring Bleezo and Macntaj is self explanatory, a track pretty much about facts from the named artist. “Jihad (Holy War)” is a song of faith, struggle and striving as the definition of the Arabic word. Solid song, production isn’t fitting but lyrically gets the job done.

Hustleman Benjermin tags along with X for “Used To Be.” The song focuses on those old dogs who claim to have bite still but lost it a long time ago, pretty good track overall. “So Centsless” is mainly about maintaining your money and haters, a solid hustler anthem all around. “Water Level” featuring King Pyro is a pretty simple gangsta rap song, nothing to special here. Youngin Floe is the next feature seen on “Natural”, a Rastafarian club fusion track I think that doesn’t do much for me, very lackluster in production and it’s hard to follow the lyrics. West Coast legend Kokane joins up with X-Raided for “8th Wonder”, this was another solid track that I enjoyed a lot. “So Beautiful” is a track for the women, X-Raided seems to pour his heart for a unnamed woman who has caught the rappers heart. This was also a good track, liked the production a lot and Manjaroe’s feature was solid. “Education” is a social conscious track, pretty good production but I didn’t like the chorus on this track. “Make A Change” seems to be X-Raided admitting to his faults and past to move forward while also dropping conscious bars in the mix. Lil Uce and X-Raided star on the final track, “Never Gave Up (Blessed)” reminds me of a modern day E-40 track, a solid beat where both rappers talk about rising through their struggles with a religious backing to it.

Overall this is a solid comeback album from the Sac-Town legend. Gotta give credit to production which was great throughout the whole album, shoutout to Robert Rebeck (@robertrebeck) who mixed the album. I feel the albums lyrics are okay, certain songs like “Natural”, “So Centsless” and “Education” lack a good structure while songs like “Narcolespsy”, “California Dreamin” and “Jackie Robinson (42)” all had great lyrics and production. I think as I listened the issue was the album’s length, clocking in at 18 tracks, 57 minutes in total. I felt as if if you took the album and made it 5 or 6 tracks shorter it would have been great, but as it is I think it is just okay. My favorite tracks were “Narcolepsy” and “California Dreamin’.” “Narcolepsy” was a dope track with full focus on Fred Krueger, a true horror track in all ways. “California Dreamin” was a dope song from production to lyrics, I liked the love shown to the OG’s in West Coast Hip-Hop history especially. I feel this worth the listen especially from fans of X-Raided, for those wanting some grimy, gangsta rap tracks to add to their mix I’d also recommend this bad boy.

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