With the recent release of Deathrow’s catelogue, many fans have wondered what happened to former inmate’s albums that never saw the light of day (Danny Boy, Tha Realest, Top Dogg, J-Flexx, etc.). O.F.T.B. easily fits that category, as they were around when Tha Row was the reigning label in rap. 1996 saw the completion of their album (here titled “The Missing DR Files”), which featured the likes of Tupac, Kadafi, Kurupt, Snoop Dogg, and MC Hammer. Released in 2007, this is definatley regarded as a highly anticipated album.
1.) Intro: O.F.T.B. talking on the phone, excited over the recent addition of their lost Deathrow tracks.
2.) Better Dayz (96 Original) feat. 2Pac, Big Syke: Despite what people think, this is the original version of Tupac’s track “Better Dayz”. O.F.T.B. and Big Syke, both spit great verses. Syke’s verse is especially relaxing, featuring Tupac’s depth. Great song.
3.) That Was Then, This Is Now feat. Snoop Dogg, Kurupt: Very uptempo track, reminiscent of “Tha Doggfather.” A very funky sample is flipped for the O.F.T.B. and Tha Dogg Pound to get busy to. Vintage Deathrow track, perfectly capturing the 96 flava, they brought to the game.
4.) I Come Up Hard: Despite the title, this track is very relaxing. Featuring a ver melodic bassline, this is O.F.T.B. in another form. Detailing their come up, O.F.T.B. paints a portrait of the struggle of Watts in the late 80s/early 90s. Also featuring an unknown singer, this track is fairly above average.
5.) World Wide feat. 2Pac, Kadafi, Kurupt: Commonly referred to as “Time After Time”, this is the first time this track was released in CDQ. Everybody comes correct here, making for a perfect track. Tupac’s extremely menacing verse, works well with Kurupt’s hook, and Kadafi’s complimentary verse. O.F.T.B. do another great job.
6.) Check Ya Hood feat. Jewell: This song was actually released in ’96, complete with a video. Very, very mellow beat, suit Jewell’s melodic hook perfectly. O.F.T.B. details another come up in the ghetto. Great track overall, and really starts to let you see what O.F.T.B. could’ve been if marketed correct.
7.) I Trust Nobody feat. Street Damage: Decent track. “I Trust Nobody” has a very hardcore beat, but O.F.T.B. doesn’t do it quite the justice it deserves. Street Damage is dissapointing, and O.F.T.B. could’ve came a lot harder. The lackluster hook really drags the song down. Average at best.
8.) Still A Mystery To Me feat. Outlawz, Kurupt: Easily the best song on the album. This is a very heartfelt tribute, and possibly the most authentic song O.F.T.B. has every produced. Taking place between Tupac and Kadafi’s death, this beat has very smooth piano chords, featuring all the Outlawz and O.F.T.B. reminiscing about their lost soldiers. Best track on the album, and definatley recommended to any Deathrow fan, or hip hop fan in general.
10.) Project Kids feat. The Nickerson Garden Project Kids: A different kind of concept, featuring O.F.T.B.’s project homies. Vintage west coast beat, but a very hard song to really appreciate. Basic lyrics from 11 year olds, drag this song down, with a wack hook. Skip it.
11.) I’m On One: Another relaxing track. Listening to the first 20 seconds of the song, you’d think it was a Bone Thugs track. O.F.T.B.’s hook is exceptional here, as they deliver very hard lyrics. Great song, and definatley a stand out track on the album.
12.) Ladies Night feat. 6 Feet Deep: Another Deathrow group that never released an album, 6 Feet Deep lace a smooth hook over a great beat. This album, after listening to the majority of the tracks, has a very relaxing party vibe. This track is no exception, featuring O.F.T.B. putting a “gangsta twist” to another good track.
13.) Doin It At The Spot feat. Big Pimpin’: Wack song, overall. This track starts off with a porno skit, and is O.F.T.B.’s attempt at a ***** song. While the beat (like most of the album) is on point, and is very mellow, the song’s theme and concept is recycled (although it probably wasn’t when this was made), and ends up dragging the album’s credibility down.
14.) Lost Souls: An Eddie Kendricks sound-a-like is used on this track, about Lost Souls. Great track overall though. The bouncing funk of the beat, and O.F.T.B.’s flow is impecible. G-Funk at it’s finest, as this proves to be another reminder and reason of why Deathrow was on top of the game back in 96.
15.) Sooner Or Later: A deep, thought out song, about fate and how sooner or later, the good life will fall into their favor. While O.F.T.B.’s lyrics take a step back on this one, the beat is another testament to the superb production laced on this album. Good song none the less, but fails to stand out among other gems on the disc.
16.) So Long feat. MC Hammer: The perfect way to close out the album, and my personal favorite track. This song, is easily on par with “Still A Mystery To Me”, if not better. Featuring a surprise feature from MC Hammer (a Deathrow artist at the time), O.F.T.B. laces this beat with mournful lyrics dedicated to the lost homies dead from gang affiliation. The hook is the real gem on the song, and is a long, smooth way to close out this album, as you can’t help but to think about ‘Pac when listening of this track, and the atmosphere at Deathrow at the time.
Overall, this album is a very good effort. While O.F.T.B. may never have the lyrics of Kurupt, or the charisma of Tupac, they proved to be a very good group, while on Tha Row. Although released 10 years after its initial completion, this proves to be a West Coast classic. Hopefully more unreleased Deathrow material, from other artists, and O.F.T.B. will continued to be released in the future.
Overall Rating: 3.5/5