Forming in Yonkers New York, Jadakiss, Styles P, and Sheek Louch became the deadly trio known as The Lox. After releasing two albums in their classic 1998 debut “Money, Power & Respect” and 2000s “We Are the Streets”, the group decided to go their separate ways. Almost two decades later, the trio would reunite on their 2016 album “Filthy America… It’s Beautiful”. Today, they are back at it with their fourth studio album “Living Off Xperience”. With the hall of fame crew having undeniable chemistry, will The Lox be able to show they have withstood the test of time?
On the microphone, each member plays off one another masterfully, which is a testament to their greatness. Opening up with the abrasive “Gave It To Em'” we see Styles, Sheek, and Jada trade their best rhymes about their forever lingering ties to the streets. While “Move” feels just as menacing in tone, its lyrics revolve around the three’s wealth and how they flaunt it. “Bout Shit” is a definite standout as The Lox teams up with longtime running mate DMX for an intense banger. Shifting the mood, “Testify” has the group on their knees as they pray to the Lord for protection and safety in a time of racial injustice and police brutality. After getting off to a strong start, the album starts to get rocky as it can’t seem to settle on a focused topic or sound. “Miss You” with T-Pain’s smooth feel makes the transition to the elusive “Story” feel awkward. “Do To Me” with Jeremih continues to ruin the pace as it feels like a throwaway 2000s RnB sex track. Following this messy stint, the album finishes off strong with cuts like “Come Back”, “My America” and “Net Worth”. The best song on the entire LP is “Think Of The LOX”, which is a hard-hitting posse cut featuring Westside Gunn and Benny The Butcher. The album’s finale “Loyalty And Love” wraps everything up as Sheek Louch, Styles P, and Jadakiss have a heart to heart, which strengthens their brotherhood. While coming with its flaws, The Lox shows they can still be highly efficient at an age where many have already fallen off.
Sonically, producers like Swizz Beatz, The Large Professor, and Scram Jones create an intuitive soundtrack that stays true to the group’s roots. Cuts like “Gave It To Em'”, “Move” and “Bout Shit” captures the grittiness of a boom-bap beat while giving it a modern spin. Showing the record’s diversity, there are angelic instrumentals like “Testify” and “Loyalty and Love” yet, there is also smoother beats like “Do To Me” and “Commitment”. “Story” was a definite standout as its heavy baseline, and fast-paced horns create a sufficient background for the crew to rap over. “Think Of The LOX” captures classic New York hip hop’s eerie feel with its ferocious drums and DJ scratches. Despite feeling redundant and bland in the middle, the production on “Living Off Xperince” is more than formidable.
In conclusion, “Living Off Xperience” is another solid addition to The Lox’s resume. While Styles P and Sheek Louch hardly disappoint, Jadakiss steals the show as he rhymes with vengeance bouncing back from his critically panned solo effort “Ignatius”. While containing a few throwaway tracks, this album serves as an exceptional piece to fans new and old. Going forward, I don’t think The Lox will collectively be as good as they were in the late 90s, but I think Sheek, Styles, and Jadakiss will continue to flesh out their all-time great resumes!