By Gerardo Garcia
In 1996, Lil Uno released his highly acclaimed debut album Once in a Decade to the delight of Chicano rap fans everywhere. With the same grimy formula, he continued his success with other underground hit albums such as Wasted Days and Wasted Nights , 13th Scorn, The Requiem: Songs for the Dead and even delved into a few Spanish-only albums. 10 years later, Lil Uno comes full circle with his latest album, The Streets.
We still find Lil Uno utilizing the same “sicko” formula that has earned him a loyal and supportive fan base; only this time, thanks in part to his relentless work ethic, Mr. Lil One has been afforded the opportunity to showcase his talents to a wider audience with The Streets by earning a new distribution deal with Fontana. With heavy radio air play and a strong promotional and marketing plan, Lil Uno has catapulted himself into the realm of mainstream music while still staying true to his Chicano rap roots.
The CEO of Sicko Records starts off with the newest single, the self titled track “The Streets,” which features a sample of the classic Four Tops song “Still Water (Love).” Mr. Lil One pays homage to his old neighborhood with vivid verses painting a picture of coming up in the streets and the struggles associated with “the ‘hood.” Chag G provides the vocal backdrop on this track and can be heard lending his talents on tracks like the funky “Ain’t Givin’ It Up;” the ultra eerie “Boogie Man,” produced by Rags and the gangster boogies, “Contagious” and “Fantasy.”
Another guest vocalist is Michelle Ambriz, a super talented singer who has worked with Lil Uno previously and provides the sultry and soulful sounds on hot tracks such as “Gotta Have Game,” “Spend Some Time,” and “They Call Him Lil One.” Both “Spend Some Time” and “They Call Him Lil One” were produced by Shysti of Sicko Records along with “Cali Sicko.” “Spend Some Time” was the first single off the album and has found major radio air play across the country. “They Call Him Lil One” is a bangin’ track with a dope oldie beat that garnered some major attention as it was featured on Lil One’s The Requiem: Songs for the Dead.
The only other feature on the album is courtesy of Lil Uno’s protege, Big Young, with standout verses on the West Coast bangers “Southeast,” “My Dogs,” and “Ain’t No Need.” The majority of production on The Streets,was handled by super producer VMF. Thee Officials contributed great production on “Love Love Love,” where Lil Uno ripped this head-noddin’, hip-hop heater and will definitely make fans do a double take as he covers new ground on this not-so-typical Lil Uno track.
The album is rounded out with “Let Me Know” where Mr. Lil One addresses the trials and tribulations of relationships; the heart felt “Broken;” and the last track, “Martin,” a full fledge outpouring of Lil Uno’s deepest emotions in an ode to his brother who recently passed.
With this latest album, its evident Lil Uno has been constantly improving his rap game over the last ten years and clear that The Streets is a solid effort by a Chicano rap veteran who will garner great success with his core fan base as well as new fans who will be pleasantly surprised by the solid production and standout flow and lyricism. Also, be on the lookout for the new video for the title track “The Streets” which will feature Danny De La Paz of of American Me fame.
Lil Uno will be performing live with Cypress Hill and Mellow Man Ace May 3rd at 4th and B San Diego. West Coast Wednesdays Live meets Cinco de Mayo brought to you by Blazin 98.9 (XMOR).