Black Rob – Game Tested, Streets Approved | Album Review

Let’s be honest for a moment, shall we? When Black Rob was sent to prison after a grand larceny charge a few years ago, it seemed like his career was over. Even with a certified platinum debut and a criminally slept on follow-up in his catalogue, we thought Rob had become just another tragic example of what happens when the transition from the streets to the fame isn’t a smooth one.

Fortunately, Black Rob seems determined to make his a story of redemption, not of tragedy and wasted talent, and has finally returned to our speakers with Game Tested, Streets Approved, his first release for new label home, Duck Down.

Like Life Story and The Black Rob Report before it, GTSA is an incredibly well-balanced piece of work, effectively and effortlessly shuttling between topics both hardcore (“Get Dough”) and heartfelt (“Showin’ Up”), thugged out (“Fuck ‘Em”) and carefree (“Celebration”).

Even after his 10-plus years in the game and a stretch in the bing, Rob still sounds as fresh and hungry as he did when he was throwing bottles with Puff on No Way Out.

GTSA is sonically on par with Rob’s earlier work as well, proving that Banco Popular’s ear for beats is still just as on point as his spit game. Whether it’s a simple, stripped down, piano-driven banger like “This Is What It Is;” something dramatic and menacing like the Sean Price-assisted “No Fear;” or something cooler and more laid-back like “Shit,” the lion’s share of GTSA is very likely to induce some serious head nods.

But as strong as GTSA is, it also has its flaws. Corny shit like “Bumpin’” and the absolutely embarrassing “Sand to the Beach” are rare missteps from an artist who generally makes very good musical decisions. Between the super-simple hook, juvenile, video game-ready beat, and cliché subject matter, the latter song might be the worst I’ve ever heard from Black Rob. That shit is bad. Real bad.

Fortunately though, these total duds don’t totally ruin the Game Tested, Streets Approved experience. They’re just a couple speedbumps on an otherwise smooth and easy-to-ride album.

Welcome back, Rob.

Black Rob – Game Tested, Streets Approved
Released: July 26, 2011
Label: Duck Down Music
Buy: iTunes US / Amazon UK

Watch Black Rob give a track-by-track breakdown of the album below.