It looks like the year of hard work is paying off for CONTROL ENT’s Goldin. Recently featured in Style Weekly and RVA Mag, now it’s time for The Cheats Movement to weigh in on The Adventures of Polo Rogers 2. I must admit that I came into this review expecting a lot from this record due the singles Goldin’s been droppingĀ  recently. His freestyle over Rick Ross’s “Sanctified” and Dead Prez’s “Hip Hop” gave me the impression that Goldin had really found his lane. I think those two records indicate what Goldin does well, intelligent lyrics with a message that uplifts the hip hop culture. For whatever reason, that type of clear message was a bit lost on TAPR2. Honestly, Goldin may have tried to give us too much diversity in the project. Listeners, myself included, do like a certain flow to a project. TAPR2 appears to be all over the place and lacks that continuity of even his previous more limited projects.

That doesn’t mean he doesn’t find his grove on certain records. “Letterman,” produced by The Crxsh, is the first track that made me look up from doing other work to take a closer listen. That was followed by “Fuk’n Art,” produced by The Handbook, and “New Rembrandts,” produced by DCBL, these three songs in a row is a good microcosm of the entire project.

The songs individual are good, not game changers, but solid recordsĀ  and Goldin uses a strong flow on all three but they don’t seem to have any flow inter-midst of the larger project. They feel like three singles thrown together in random order. It confuses me as a listener.

My favorite songs on the project are “Small Market,” featuring Radio B. This song is a clear example of Goldin’s potential. I wonder if Radio’s strong bars raised Goldin’s competitive spirit? Either way he elevated his game on “Small Market” and delivered what I had been searching for all LP. The Douglas Wild – Politics as usual line is the witty content I look for and love.

The other song that I’m partial to and I think is a good example of what Goldin does really well is “Hoop Dreams.” It a smart song. You have to be a true hoop fan to understand the references to Joe “The Destroyer” Hammond and Arther “Man” Agee.

Goldin can truly paint a picture with his lyrics. “Hoop Dreams” even references local legend Jonathan Hargett. It’s a really good track but you have to be in that world to truly understandĀ  and appreciate it – so it goes over a lot of heads. And that might be the case for a lot of Goldin’s work on TAPR 2. So what’s the solution? Dumb it down? No. Talib didn’t dumb it down. Lupe didn’t dumb it down, he just has to find a groove and a message that connects even more…like he did with that aforementioned “Bigger than Hip Hop” track. It also helps to create a smash record and unfortunately TAPR2 doesn’t have a smash.

It’s a new year and I reset the RVA Hip Hop Scoreboard. Last year I was way too nice to the records I reviewed. I stand by the reviews but the scores were way too high. I won’t make that mistake this year. Artists will have to truly earn their mics. Like the original source it’s a 5 mic system. 5 mics is a Cheats classic 4.5 is a crazy album. 3 mics is average. 2 mics needs work. I was really liberal last year. Again, I will be much tough in 2015. So….

My last thought on TAPR 2: I felt I was doing too much searching for Golding to truly deliver and I think he did on “Small Market” the only problem is that is track 13 on a 13 track project. The positives is Goldin is one of the hardest workers I know, when it come to growth in his craft. He’s constantly working with his team CONTROL Ent and his live show is one of the most improved I’ve seen int he last 12 months. He’s finding what works musically…”Hoop Dreams” works. There is just not enough on this project for it to be that breakout project I was waiting for….I rate it 2.5 out 5.

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