"Remember when you would buy that album from your favorite artist and you would listen to it often while everyone around you would call it wack? Then time passes and you take another listen and you realize that it isn't all that? Well, today's example is 1997's The Firm, consisting of my favorite rappers of the time, Nas, AZ, Foxy Brown, and then-newcomer Nature (replacing the imprisioned Cormega).We all know that rappers like to put fiction in their rhymes, but to picture Nas, AZ and Foxy as some mafioso-type people pushing weight and dressed up in expensive outfits is taking it too far. Songs like "Executive Decision" and "Firm Fiasco" feature Nas as a confused drug kingpin instead of a street griot only wishing of these things like on Illmatic. The other three members, on the other hand, rap pretty damn good.Foxy Brown nearly pushes a man to the curb on "... Somebody Else", though it's pretty corny for Dr. Dre to sample "You Gonna Make Me Love Somebody Else". Nature does his thing on "Five Minutes to Flush", and who could forget AZ and Nas's highlight, "Phone Tap", where their vocals actually sound like they were being listened to by an outsider on the phone?However, the best performances come from the millions of guest stars that otherwise mess up the direction of this album. Almost-famous Noreaga joins Nature in another highlight, "I'm Leaving". AZ and his protege Half-A-Mil convincingly tell you to "Throw Your Guns". And Canibus once again steals the show in "Desparados": remember the line that started with "In fact, perhaps you should quit rap..."? Despite these great performances, they turn the album into a compilation instead of a group debut.Things get worse with the boring rhymes Dre gives in "Firm Family". "Firm All Stars" is another waste of time, and by the way, the song titles are very repetitive ("Firm Fiasco", "Firm Family", "Firm Biz", "Firm All Stars"), and all of these Firm songs only feature two or three members of the Firm. In fact, there isn't one song that features all four members of the group, and those members are--I already forgot, who's in this group again? There's too many guest stars cluttered here to really tell.Maybe this idea for The Firm looked better on paper, because although the music sounds good sometimes, there's a lack of coherency. More and more every day it seems like they just threw this album together. I'm glad they only made one album together, because at the end of the day The Firm just looked like one big gimmick."
Mike Terry | STL | 04/25/2002
(2 out of 5 stars)
"This album had to be one of the most disappointing projects of 1997.
How bad is this album?
Well, after its release AZ apologized for being involved in such a bad project on his album 9 Lives. Producer Dr. Dre is quoted on one of his songs off 2001 calling it "the Firm flop."
Nas' career almost fizzled into nothing under the Escobar nickname...and it took the brilliant Stillmatic project to resurrect his career.
Foxy Brown pretends she was never involved. And Nature...the last minute replacement for Cormega...has also gone nowhere since.
Yeah, there are 5 or 6 songs worth a listen (especially Phone Tap and Desparados), but there is more garbage than quality material."
Ikechukwu Agu | Palo Alto, CA USA | 08/29/2004
(1 out of 5 stars)
"In my opinion NaS is the greatest rapper of all time but he's lucky this album didn't end his career. This album is hardly deserving of the one star that I gave it. The title of the first real track on the album, "Firm Fiasco," provides a fitting description of the quality, or lack thereof, of this album. The best tracks are "Phone Tap," "Five Minutes To Flush" and "Desperados" but even these tracks are little more than average. On an individual basis Foxy Brown turns in a typically, in my opinion, forgettable performance (see "F*** Somebody Else"). Nature is no substitute for Cormega (see the track "Affirmative Action" on NaS' It Was Written album for a good song by the original Firm i.e. with Cormega instead of Nature before his beef with NaS). AZ and NaS (Escobar) normally perform well but this is easily the worst performance in each of their careers. They trade in usually ill lyricism about hood life for fantasized stories abt being Mafiosos. Do yourself a favor and don't buy this album, unless you are a huge NaS fan. Don't believe the hype either, even the concept of The Firm cannot be seen as a "supergroup" as it was billed to be. Dr. Dre is a top tier producer but his style doesn't mesh well with NaS and AZ and no group with Foxy and Nature as members can ever be a supergroup. If you're looking for a good NaS or AZ release, this simply is not it. Luckily NaS' Escobar persona was just a phase and he, Dre and AZ went on to bigger and better things."
Despite critics reviews this album Delivers
G$ | B-More, MD | 10/25/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"No matter what the critics say I think this album is a damn good one. I would have liked to see Cormega on it but differences occured and newcomer Nature (whom I also am a fan of) filled in. I think the album got hyped up WAY too much and people expected something that was better than perfect. Production is pretty good, Dr. Dre & Glove do 5 songs, Poke & Tone do 6, Dr. Dre & Mel Man do 1 and L.E.S. does 1. It has 2 classics and 2 near classics, and no songs that I skip. It starts off a little slow but once it picks up, it stays up. Despite all this I think the four rapper "group" put together a quality album that is a must have for rap fans.
#2 - 7.5 (Nas, AZ, Foxy Brown) #4 - 8.5 (AZ, Nas, Nature, Foxy Brown, & Dr. Dre on the hook - about having your phone tapped by the feds) #5 - 7 (Nas, Nature, AZ) #6 - 8 (Nature & Dr. Dre) #7 - 8 (Foxy Brown & Pretty Boy) #9 - 8.5 (A sex song by the all so sexy - Foxy Brown) #10 - 9 (Nas & Foxy Brown) #11 - 9 (freestyle - by Wizard) #13 - 9 (Nature - about being raided by the feds) #15 - 10 (classic - Canibus, Nature, AZ w/ Nas & Foxy Brown on the hook) #16 - 9.5 (remake of "Square Biz" - Nas, Foxy Brown, Az & Dawn Robinson on the hook) #17 - 9.5 (Nature & Noreaga - check out "Magic & Bird" by these two as well - it's hot) #18 - 10 (a classic w/ AZ & Half-A-Mill (R.I.P.))
Nas - b. Nasir Jones - 9/14/73 - b. Long Island, NY moved to Queensbridge, NY AZ - b. Anthony Cruz - around 1973 - Brownsville, Brooklyn, NY Foxy Brown - b. Ingrid Marchand - 9/6/79 - b. Bronx, NY moved to Brooklyn, NY Nature - b. Jermaine Baxter b. 1972 - QueensBridge, NY
Check all my reviews out"
Not All Collaborations Are Good Ideas.....
Solution | Lakeland, Florida | 03/02/2007
(2 out of 5 stars)
"The Firm(a conglomerate consisting of Nas, AZ, Foxy Brown and the relative unknown Nature(who took the place of original member Cormega after a heated dispute))...came up with the "brilliant idea" to collaborate on a full album...after the release of "Affirmative Action" from Nas' It Was Written album. After enlisting the assistance of Dr. Dre's Aftermath Records and production by the infamous Trackmasters, The Firm's album is subpar to say the least...it sounds like each individual artists is trying too hard to outshine the other and many of the beats consisting on this album are just a lil too sample heavy...."Hardcore" for example. However, I will admit, there are some shining moments by all four members....and some half decent production....i.e. "Phone Tap"..."F**k Somebody Else"(lyrics are forgettable since Foxy is doing what she does best on the mic...talking about sex and its many forms....I think you might be able to masterbate to this one...LOL). I will give this a decent try but I can't go no further than that. I will agree with one reviewer saying that listening to the group as solo artists is a more satisfying."