The album was created to showcase Northwest hip-hop to the world. The best artists from Bend, OR to Seattle, WA were put together by Northe'n Lights for the listener.
pdx hip hop magazine
Cut 'Em or Pay 'Em is the debut project for the collaborative production team that makes up Northe'n Lights, Terminill and Sonny. Each artist lent their own individual influences that ranged from west coast hip hop veterans like Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, N.W.A. and Ice Cube, along with traditional soul like Isaac Hayes, Al Green, Stevie Wonder and more modern R&B like En Vogue, Brandy and Boyz 2 Men. The production quality remains strong and consistent through the course of the album while it skips from a street sound to traditional underground to smooth vocal R&B. The artists show their diversity at work along with an unexpected cleverness between track pairing.
The motive behind Cut 'Em or Pay 'Em was to showcase the northwest hip hop scene in a way that displayed the wide umbrella that local artists fall under. The group felt that there were many artists that didn't collaborate based on different musical styles, but that talent remained a strong consistent tie between all of them. Northe'n Lights was able to showcase the best northwest artists in their strongest forms, with beats that sound individually personalized to match each lyricist or singer. It allows a listener an introduction into an assortment of music available and uses artists who are strong representatives of the northwest on solo endeavors to increase the strength of the album as a whole.
The compilation collected an outstanding list of features, with tracks lent by artists like Illmaculate, Toni Hill, Destro of Boom Bap Project, Mac Smiff, Braille, Liv Warfield, 6ix, Soul P, Mausy, Arjay, Mikey Vegaz, Luck One, Cool Nutz, Maniac Lok, Kenny Mack and many more. All bases were covered, all forms of hip hop shown in true essence, and all artists involved give strong assistance to the overall feel of the album.
Even after listening several times through, I still find is a shocking display of the multiplicity of Northe'n Lights that they did the only production on the album. The overall sound is one that seems as if each beat was catered specially to the sound of the lyricist. From contemporary to classic hip hop, underground to mainstream, soulful songstress or gully gangster, the album blends with the artist in a way that makes them sound natural and true to their prior established reputations, while still combining together to make the album as a whole sound clean. There is an appeal to anyone who is a fan of hip hop, no matter what subcategory you gravitate towards.
While bringing recognition to the northwest artists who have continued to excel and climb, Cut 'Em or Pay 'Em is sure to create a thirst for more projects from Northe'n Lights in the future. In my time in the northwest, I have not found another compilation that rivals the selective skill, level of talent, multifaceted melody or pure expertise that Northe'n Light has captured with this album. I would recommend this to anyone who wants to become better acquainted with northwest hip hop or who has appreciation for everything hip hop is able to encompass because Northe'n Lights showed both in the truest essence