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Fiend – There’s One In Every Family 2 [Album Review]

Sequels to classic albums always carry a heavy burden. For every Stillmatic there’s an Adrenaline Rush 2007 (don’t remember the latter? Neither does the rest of the masses). An otherwise satisfactory project stands a good chance of being condemned just because it’s so directly connected with its heralded predecessor and simply can’t compare.

When New Orleans legend Fiend (aka International Jones aka Fiend4DaMoney) first announced that he was planning a sequel to his classic sophomore album (and No Limit debut), There’s One In Every Family, two years ago, I’ll admit – I was skeptical. It wasn’t that I thought Mr. Jones wasn’t capable of putting out a great album. On the contrary; he’s one of a few who’s managed to evolve creatively throughout the course of his 2 decades+ career. If the first 10 years was brash, in-your-face rawness, the last 10 years have been smooth, “grown man” hip hop. And it’s all worked.

No, my skepticism was rooted more in it not feeling like a Fiend project from New Orleans’ late 90’s golden era. If he were to follow up TOIEF, that same energy and approach towards each song had to be there in abundance. As savvy and cultured as alter-ego International Jones is, tales of lavish trips and champagne sippin’ had to be absent this go-round. The original dealt with pain, despair and struggle, all while maintaining a hungry and optimistic outlook. Could Fiend capture that same energy in his mid-40’s?

The early answer was yes when he teased his fan base with a single titled Frontline in early February 2019. Beyond a strong performance from Fiend, the song garnered attention for sporting guest appearances from ex-No Limit label-mates, Mo B. Dick and Mr. Serv-On. With a popular, nostalgic single in place, it looked as if this album could live up to its lofty expectations. Fiend then opted to take a page out of the late Nipsey Hussle’s book by spontaneously announcing a limited release through his website. There’s One In Every Family 2 would be packed with a t-shirt but more importantly, a feeling that you (as a fan) had an exclusive not available to the general public. That’s marketing and creating demand for music in 2019. How did the album ultimately fare though? Let’s find out.

There’s One In Every Family 2 starts off with the aforementioned lead single, Frontline. Crack Alley Music establishes a menacing build up with unrestful chants and sirens. As the bass drops, Fiend’s shell shocked chorus will immediately remind listeners of No Limit’s heyday. Mr. Serv-On laces the first verse with a 16 that comfortably meshes with the production. Serv’s musical output has been inconsistent over the years but he’s in fine form here – sounding best when reunited with his Tank Doggs. Fiend dismantles the 2nd verse, effortlessly switching flows throughout, before Mo B. Dick caps it off with his signature, strained harmony.

Following Frontline is a collaboration that would’ve seemed impossible in 1998 – the Snoop Dogg and Juvenile-accompanied On My Job. This heavy, 808-driven number takes Fiend back to his Headbussaz days and it’s always refreshing to hear Snoop return to the swamp. The strongest performance, however, belongs to Juvenile. The Cash Money Millionaire holds nothing back:

“The winner, from New Orleans to Kenner…
Your bitch invite me over, say she having me for dinner…
It’s hard for you to breathe, ha? The air’s gettin’ thinner…
I’ve been stuntin’ on you niggas for the past 10 winters!”

My only qualm with the inclusion of this song on There’s One In Every Family 2 is that it’s been available as a promotional single since 2014. As an isolated track, it’s satisfactory, but feels a bit out of place on this otherwise new project. Miss Da Most pulls from the pensive sadness of its predecessor’s All I Know and The Streets Ain’t Safe. It serves as a dedication to friends and family that ultimately fell victim to the pitfalls of the judicial system. McKinley “Mac” Phipps and Corey “C-Murder” Miller immediately come to mind, as Fiend offers an open letter of encouragement over this melancholic beat.

What’s A Drought? cleverly combines elements of new trap with hypnotizing piano keys; a song that very much resembles a modern Medicine Men production. Sleepy Eyed Jones Capone proudly boasts of his unlimited supply of birds, bricks, ki’s and pounds, while sprinkling his infamous “whomp” adlibs throughout. This is quintessential Fiend and an album highlight. Next up is Rollin’ One, Smokin’ One – the obligatory weed anthem. It doesn’t have the transcendent feel of Who’s Got That Fire? but does reel you in with its eerie blend of synths and spacey feel (imagine a slower, darker rendition of Prime Suspects’ Liquidation Of The Ghetto).

Clocking in at just over two minutes, we quickly shift to the upbeat Who Ya Playin’ Wit. This, much like What’s A Drought?, sounds cut from the legendary cloth of Beats By The Pound. It remains a personal favorite, largely due to the impressive manner in which Fiend attacks the beat’s stuttery drums and horns:

“Dun dada, bout his dollar, bought an automatic chopper…
Bullshit stopper, ain’t gonna leave the drop but gotta ‘Charge It 2 Da Game’ like my nigga Silkk The Shocker!”

Do It is presented as the album’s twerk track, utilizing the instantly-recognizable Triggaman sound as its foundation. It’s intentionally simplistic chorus pays tribute to the repetitive nature of bounce music’s biggest hits. Fiend correctly applies the sing-style flow popularized by artists like Parners-N-Crime and 5th Ward Weebie over this superb production. Can’t Be Scared is classic Cadillac music, in that its mellow sound works best with the windows down on a sunny summer day. The subject matter is shallow but Fiend’s flow, and smooth production, lift an otherwise-average track up.

Trust No One is the album’s final entry and does a good job recreating the sound of the late 90’s, all without sounding dated or forced. Fiend’s stories of “war wound scars” feel just as authentic 21 years later, as he reflects on hard times and debilitating setbacks:

“It was 1998, trying to tell ‘em for the cake, that the ‘Streets Ain’t Safe’…
It be hotter than hell, trying to eat my plate…
Them 4:00am murders, don’t see they face…
Just some homemade silencers on 3 AK’s!”

So is There’s One In Every Family 2 a project that belongs firmly cemented next to its timeless original or is it an album that fell short of its mountainous expectations? The answer lies somewhere in between. At just 9 songs, it was crafted much differently than its sprawling 75 minute predecessor. Absent is the camaraderie of the Tank’s early albums, and Beats By The Pound is noticeably missing on a few numbers, but that’s not to say that this isn’t a satisfying effort.

I commend Fiend for trading the dapper persona of International Jones for the aggressive persona of the Baddest Motherfucker Alive. Themes of struggle, hunger and the hustle keep There’s One In Every Family 2 spiritually connected to its original. The production feels fresh and his songwriting is still as sharp as ever. It also succeeds in providing incredible replay value – the album is an easy (albeit brief) listen and should stay in fans’ rotation for the coming summer.

Overall Vibes: 7.6

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