"Am I the meanest? Sho Nuff! Am I the baddest? Sho Nuff! Am I the flyest? Sho Nuff!,” Juelz Santana raps on the intro track, "Sho Nuff," to his new mixtape, God Will’n. While Santana has shown the potential throughout his career to be all those things and more, he just hasn’t shown enough of a reliable commitment to his craft to fulfill all his promise. So on what seems like another fresh start for the maddeningly inconsistent Harlem MC, God Will’n flashes the unique bravado, charisma and appeal that warrants forgiveness for all the disheartening starts and stops to his career.
On the feature-heavy project Santana is equally as comfortable rapping alongside big ticket talent like Rick Ross, Meek Mill and Fabolous ("Soft") or young rambunctious upstarts like Lil Durk ("Both Sides") and Lil Reese ("Bodies"). Even though fans may have reluctantly put to rest their wishes for the on again, off again collaborative album I Can’t Feel My Face with Lil Wayne, it’s hard not to acknowledge the undeniable chemistry these two share in the booth. The proof's in the standout track “Blackout,” where the two pick up right where they left off on Weezy’s 2008 Carter III album cut “You Ain’t Got Nuthin."
Although the tape does have some moments that feel dated ("What I Want" and "Awesome" with Wale ) this could be a result of his sporadic recording process. "Wanna Be Me" sounds like it would have had more impact if it had come out six months ago.
Though we'd like to see more solo moments from Santana throughout the tape, it’s more than evident that the Skull Gang boss has lots of potent ink stored up in his seldom used pen. Still sharp and witty with his bars Santana still possesses the ability to draw listeners in with tracks like the Jahlil Beats-produced “Nobody’s Safe." Staying true to his rap DNA Santana tactfully pairs together personal tragedies and serious concepts as previously executed on earlier notable cuts like "Who Am I" and "My Problem" for revamped 2013 versions — “My Will" and "Nobody Knows” featuring crooner and rapper Future.
Ultimately it will be up to fans to determine if God Will’n is enough of a peace offering to make up for the frustrating inconsistency they've been through with the Harlem MC. No matter how one might be leaning at the moment this project does have enough solid moments to make it a worthy appetizer for his oft delayed LP.
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(Photo: Def Jam Recordings)