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In 1997 came the first and only album from The Firm, a quartet of New York-based MCs working on Dr. Dre's then-new label Aftermath. Together Nas, Nature, Foxy brown and AZ brought together "The Firm: The Album" and made for an album filled with Mafioso Rap themes that were at its peak during this period. By this point Nas had already got two albums under his belt, and was going by the name Nas Escobar, whilst Foxy Brown and AZ had just made their solo debuts and Nature wasn't yet at a point where he could do things alone.
2. "Firm Fiasco"
Following a very relevant introduction, you get them turning right into the main mix of things as they jump on top of some deep Dr. Dre beats which pull you in as you get the three real stars of the act (Foxy, AZ and Nas) coming together for a joint that really suits expectations of a Mafioso act, based upon what the likes of Kool G. Rap, The Notorious B.I.G. and Raekwon had done prior to this time as a great starter.
3. "Phone Tap" (Intro)
4. "Phone Tap"
You see that you get a pretty fly single here as hey move into one that gives an opening from the MC who was absent from the first one as the male members of the act come together for a chilling tracks that continues to suit expectations as they chow that they are able to do things in the Mafioso style and will terrorise in their ways with these phone messages as they speak on what they know about the people they are out to get.
5. "Executive Decision"
I felt hat this one was much more dense than the tracks that had come prior to it, which may be to some degree down to the fact that you don't get an input from Dre on the beats, but I would have to say that it is nowhere near a weak one for them as off the string you see that here the same line-up to what was found on the last one comes through here to rhyme about how things are done within their firm.
6. "Firm Family"
Here you see them opening things up a little more with the music as you get a laid-back joint than gives you the chance to calm much more than what was possible before in their cold offerings leading up to this point. Here you get a fresh one as you find that here nature rhymes without any support from the other members of The Firm and instead Dr. Dre himself gets some lines (which sound like they've been written by Nas).
7. "Firm All Stars"
Here you see that they break out with a tune that takes what was heard from the last one to a knew level as here you find that they get on some lively, funky beats that are bound to get you grooving and it shows that they are down for some party jams as well as the more typical, darker work and they do well with the Trackmasters giving that good stuff to liven it up before Nas comes with the hook, Pretty Boy gives a fly verse then Foxy goes off.
8. "F**k Somebody Else" (Intro)
9. "F**k Somebody Else"
Here you get some true solo material from Foxy Brown and I felt that in this case it was taken to another massive high as after hearing a sensual interlude that seems very relevant to the direction of it, you have here coming out with a joint that has her rapping about how if she doesn't get the right sort of sexual satisfaction then she will have to look somewhere else for it as she rides some lively Dre beats.
Here you find that they do just what is expected (from what is given in the title) as you see that wit this one the Trackmasters drill out more empowering beats, and from this you get a fresh jam where the duo of Nas and Foxy Brown come out with some hardcore rhymes as they do things in tag team fashion by passing the flows from one to another frequently to make for tune that keeps it all rolling well.
11. "Untouchable" 9Lude)
12. "Five Minutes To Flush" (Intro)
13. "Five Minutes To Flush"
This was one of the biggest tunes for me and I believe that much of this was down to the fact that you see that you see that the Trackmasters power through with an updated set to Whodini's "Five Minutes Of Funk" and bring life to it again with heavier, slapping beats as you get a frantic tune concerning what Nature would do when the police come knocking at the door when you've got a massive stash of hardcore drugs. The Roger Troutman Talk Box hook tops it off and makes it one of the best tracks that this one has to offer to the listener.
14. "Desperados" (Intro)
Here they come out with yet more of the lively Mafioso rap material and in this case you see that you get a bit more of a laid-back set bringing brought forward to the thing. In this one you find that each and every one of the MCs within the all-star line-up get a few lines, and you even get an appearance from Canibus to make for another heavy jam on record that holds things together well.
16. "Firm Biz"
Here they drop the biggest single from the album and the first single from the thing. You see that here the core three in the group come together again with Dawn Robinson (of En Vogue and Lucy Pearl) for a fly two-stepping joint that brings the party atmosphere to the Mafioso material effectively to the point where you can't possibly think that they can't do wrong when together on the track.
17. "I'm Leaving"
I felt that after that killer joint they couldn't top thing, and this was the case, however they were sure not to just calm down as the album comes to its later stages as here they come out with a tune that gets Nature coming to work with Noreaga (later known as N.O.R.E.) for another tune that is able to carry through the sorts of things that came through earlier and led to them effectively creating the perfect setting for the album.
18. "Throw Your Guns"
The album ends with AZ a track of his own, although you do get some help from Half-A-Mill too and I felt that it made for a pretty nice way to end the album with. It wasn't the best on the album, but it does really represent the record well as you see that it gets his bringing in the most prominent elements of the album together to create for a tune that gives you that chance to calm down from the excitement of the rest of the thing.
Although Dr. Dre considered it to be a flop, based upon having this super-group release sell so poorly, I would have to say that the quality of the album means that this can be ignored as you find that with a great line-up it made for an album that did it all and was effective able to take the main Mafioso ideas further than the expected directions and had all the MC working to a standard that seemed to make all the others build their work up well.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Firm Fiasco
2 Phone Tap
3 Executive Decision
4 Firm Family
5 Firm All Stars
6 Fuck Somebody Else
9 Five Minutes To Flush
11 Firm Biz
12 I'm Leaving
13 Throw Your Guns