It's undeniable. When you cop a Beanie Sigel album, you're copping a piece of life. For about a decade, the legendary Philadelphia native has consistently delivered entrenched, frontline prose and engrossingly classic LPs. His next album, The Solution, follows in the bloodline of his artistically astute catalog, The Truth (1999), The Reason (2001), and his most pondering and lyrically gripping opus, The B. Coming (2005).
"It's the solution to a lot of things," Beans begins to explain. "Expression has been my own personal solution at times, expression can be salvation as well as the ultimate release. My music is the solution not just for me though, but for a lot of people as well. I'm the type of person that might say what the next man might be thinking and don’t know how to say it or who might be too scared to say it."
Throughout his career, there has been a short list of artists to evoke as much emotion in their music as Sigel and a even shorter roster who have actually experienced everything they talk about. The good, the bad, and the ugly, Sigel has talked about it all. In fact, one of his most magnetic traits is that he openly rhymes about his shortcomings and plans to make them right on songs such as "Nothing Like It" and the upcoming Solution's "No Bravery." So despite the influx of ringtone MCs and gimmicky dance songs that have swept through the rap game since his hiatus, Sig feels stronger than ever that substantive raps have an important place in hip-hop.
"I consider myself relevant in the rap game at all times," explains Sig, who lists artists such as Plies and Lil' Wayne who he's feeling now, he insists. "After you party and do all that, now the real world kicks in. The pain, the stress, agony. The lessons you learn. Your come ups, your downfalls. The real world--which I deal with in my music--is always relevant. All the shit I might go through in the course of a day is on my album. I'm talking about religion, spiritually, getting a piece of mind. All that counts and all that's in my music."
The first single, "All of the Above," is fast becoming the monster radio smash that has eluded Beans for most of his career. It's a melodically grizzly epic, featuring the timeless King of R&B, R. Kelly.
"It's real shit on there yeah," Sigel says, cautioning to not let the initial party feel of the song, overshadow some of the hidden jewels he drops within the verses. "It's that fly shit in the beginning, I'm stunting to draw them in. But then when that second verse comes in, there's gems in there you need to hear. I try to keep that balance. It's important."
"I'm hood, I'm street, still standing in the middle of the heat," the Grammy Award winning Kelly sings on the hook. "I'm a mack, I'm a thug./ I'm a pimp./ I does, all of the above," Kells sings over the track's urgent drums triumphant bass, turning the record into a instant anthem that can gain interchangeable love from the clubs to the corners of the hood."
Besides Kelly, Diddy, Wu-Tang Clan's Ghostface, Plies and Jay-Z appear on the record.
"The Day" is a roaring rock inspired selection that samples Black Sabbath's "War Pigs." The loop of "The day of judgment is calling" stomps through the record as Sig talks about his struggles with religion, his passion and his career.
"It's hard to fight back these tears when I'm in tune with my music," Beanie pours over the beat. "…I'm Muslim by Nature, but a gangster by circumstances./…They say a man once complained he ain't have no shoes./ Until he met a man who have no feet./ They say prayer is better than sleep, the earth shall belong to the meek./ And I try to be mindful in speech./… Therefore I'm preparing for the day of judgment."
"I try to give 'em the artist, the real hip-hop head wanna hear. The metaphors," Beans told. "But it's people who listen to raps because that’s their current events. Its people in jail who can't read. It's people in the house that are fathers faking it and their kids don’t know, daddy can't read."
Parenthood is expounded on in "Children are the future" where Bean looks far beyond the here and now.
"Sisters raise your daughters, soon they'll be mothers too…," he rhymes on the record. "As the world twirls our lives are one life to live./ Our world is his, but free will is ours./ Its up to us what we do./ Does it give us the will to play God?/ Too many young girls killing their pearls./ Too many Brendas of the world./ The question begins at, where the men at?"
"I think I'm before my time," says Beanie. "They ain't gonna get it until after… I'm cool with that. 'Children are the future' and 'The Day,' that's the records I want them to remember me by. That's that forever music. I don't wanna make music forever, but I want to have that forever music that never plays out. Years from now, I want my records to be like the oldies are to us now. Them joints you gotta have for your collection."
Meanwhile, on the aforementioned "No Bravery," Sig potently bangs his words over the searing mid-tempo soundscape where he tries to contemplate his next potentially successful moves and admonishes himself for opportunities he's already lost.
"I'm checking myself” he describes. "Like yo, I did some dumb ass shit. This is how it was supposed to go, it didn’t go that way. I'm a dickhead for doing it, but I'm going to try and straighten it out. That'll show a muthafu--a that sometime you gotta check yourself homes. When a ni--a press that fuck it button, it gets stuck sometime and they live that their whole life."
In the past couple of years, Sigel has been portrayed as rap's most unrelenting bad guy. With his short jail stint and handful of runs-in with the law, many media outlets started to take Beans' nickname of the Broadstreet Bully to heart with sensational headlines.
Beanie laughs it off. "The thing is, if you read some of the papers or listen to some of the news broadcast, you would think that I'm walking around 24 hours a day with a scowl on face, fist balled up ready to fight. I know it sounds cliché, but they don’t know me and I'm really not like that. I have kids, a mom, I'm a family man. I love my friends. If the fans see me in the streets, I'm very approachable. I'm not Hollywood."
Sig does have aspirations to make a mark in Hollywood like he has in hip-hop. Besides starring in hood favorites, theatrical releases "State Property I and II," he recently auditioned for the lead role in "Notorious," which is the big screen telling of the life of the Notorious B.I.G. There's also a cartoon in the works. Sigel has already showed his business acumen and fashion sense by founding the successful State Property clothing line and he has another clothing label in the works. His top priority, of course is the music. After The Solution, he wants to start his own record imprint and introduce a crop of new talent just like he did with State Property and the crew's standouts Freeway and the Young Gunz."The business opportunities are great accompaniment to my efforts as a artist, but I'm keeping everything in perspective,” he says. "No matter how far I get up the corporate ladder, I'mma keep that ground wire. You have to stay grounded or you fuck around and get electrocuted.