**1/2 (out of 4)
First, some background: Think of the collection of rappers, producers and designers known as Treated Crew as Chicago's answer to the Wu-Tang Clan, with Million $ Mano (the DJ for Kanye West and Jay-Z's "Watch The Throne" tour) serving the RZA role.
OK, let's move on.
A narrative I've heard among other rap nerds has been that the collected talent of Treated Crew makes them a formidable roster, but they're too comfortable reveling in their already-existing cred to try anything new. The tepid releases from their "Treated Tuesday" series earlier this year didn't do anything to suggest otherwise. At some point this year, something changed. Maybe it was the increased national attention that the drill scene brought Chicago in 2012. Maybe it was the rise of the A$AP Mob, a NYC crew currently eating off of the South by Northeast style Chicago has been known for since the late '80s. No matter what the reason, I'm just happy it happened. "Treated: The Album" is a sobering backhanded smack to any and all that have doubted the abilities of the members of this crew the past 3-5 years, myself included.
Appearances by crew members/associates YP, GLC, Freddie Gibbs and both Sir Michael Rocks and Chuck Inglish of the Cool Kids harkens back to compilations like "Ruff Ryders Vol 1 and 2," where various rappers affiliated with one set would combine like Voltron to rap their collective asses off. However, to say Mic Terror steals the show on this record would be the understatement of the year. The guy can just flat-out rap, sprinkling his blend of rhymes about sex and, well, sex all over the project. (A split project between he and fellow member Gzus Piece is a wonderful concept that I hope gets realized one day.) Hollywood Holt plays the crew enforcer role to a tee, talking reckless and moon-walking over songs like "Whip." Production-wise, Million $ Mano steps out front and establishes himself as a producer to keep an eye on going forward. His choice of sample flips are fun, from a fresh take on Kool and the Gang's "Summer Madness" on "40oz and Stuntin'" (a song that is the closest-ever resemblance to what summer in Chicago "sounds like") to none other than Sisqo's "Thong Song" on "Bong." Out loud I actually said, "Oh, no he didn't," the first time I heard it.
The album is available to stream here, but if you'd like to join the cult (their words, not mine), head over to JGRNT and cop a limited-edition "Treated" crown (the hats are dope, btw) and you'll get a physical copy of the album for free.
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