All right, an underground rapper from the south who found major label success in 2011, but of course had previous albums dating back to 2005. He was briefly with Sony BMG in 2007, but went back to indie, as a lot seem to do lately, for a little while. The underground rap scene was what was most inspirational to him after all. In 2011 though, he found a home with Eminem's Shady label.
Lots of guest artists are found throughout this album, so it should make for an interesting group of songs. Dude looks pretty white, which is sort of a moot point given Eminem killed that as a stereotype years back. Am I just rambling about white rappers at this point? You betcha.
I'm coming out of a Gavin DeGraw kick of from the day, so bear with me here. "Radioactive Introduction" comes at us with warnings of an explosion in our major US cities, followed by a low-toned self-introduction by the man himself (I think). This is the moment I looked over and realized all but one track on here are labeled explicit. Sweet. Here we go with the real shit y'all.
"Get Away" includes Shawty Fatt and Mystikal (both very hard names to type, mind you). Holy... whoa, that's some fast rapping, and it's all pretty clear (note to self: listen to more Jay-Z). I mean, the whole song's drug references and the get away is probably the drug-induced one, but it's all good. I don't know why, but for the first time in a very long time, gangster rap doesn't sound awful. "Drink some. Smoke some."
Bawitada da bang da bang... sorry, wrong era/song. Damn I miss this guy's older tracks... But here he is anyway - Kid Rock is here for "Let's Roll" The whole start sounds so much more like smooth R&B, but don't worry - we're still in rap mode here. With a sung chorus that at least gives the song something more to grasp onto than a beat and fast words that will pass you by. Oh man... it just occurred to me that Kid Rock is singing the chorus, and isn't apart of the verses. Man, now I'm just depressed.
"Hard White (Up In The Club)" is next. Lil Jon is on for this one, and he brings everything you expect him to - namely, loud shouts of random-ish words in his incredibly crazy but awesome voice. Can we talk for a second about the title of this one? Or can someone at least explain it to me? Anywhos, it's a lot of explanation of self and his career for Yelawolf, followed by a quick chorus about being up in the club and not giving a fuck. Love the rap rhythm, not loving the rap itself, especially after the line "you'll never see rock and roll do what I did for hip hop" or something like that.
"Throw It Up" has a damn nice driving beat to it. It includes Gangsta Boo and my secret love Eminem. I mean, the lyrics are a lot of yelling at us that we don't know what they're talking about and can't understand them, but whatever, that's why I'm listening (in theory) - to understand. The music on this one makes up for the aggressive cursing, but Gangsta Boo just put for Nicki Minaj, so I may be in love.
"Bitches like love songs!" - Eminem. "Good Girl" featuring Poo Bear is the one for the ladies in the crowd. And yah know what? It sort of hold up. I mean, granted, his points are all about how crappy of a boyfriend he is, but points out that she wants him nonetheless. Of course she's too good to him. Or the sex is that good. *shrug* I guess we've really got the foundations of a strong, healthy relationship here. Or the most honest guy in the freakin' world who's just laying it all out there. Favorite line? "No such thing as a good girl gone bad, just bad girls tryin' to go good."
"Made In The U.S.A." features a singer named Priscilla Renea who sounds remarkably like Rihanna's early work (lighter than now). The concept's sort of cool, talking on the state of the USA and how we have it good, or not depending on how you look at it. What I love most here is the music - there's some canned strings section that gives it a very elegant sound and carries the whole thing as a song of beauty.
Fefe Dobson, a rather familiar name, comes on for "Animal." It's the most electronically charged track so far, demanding a strobe light if I've ever heard such a sound. I guess it's one for the clubs, but there's a few more rhythms missing that would round it out for a late night in AC. She provides the warning to him that they're all after him (cops, the man, etc.) because he's, well, an animal. Man, I'm running out of funny/cool things to say here. I think I'm paranoid now - just found out someone who's opinion I care about actually reads this, lol.
I wanted to go back and re-listen to "The Hardest Love Song In The World" for two reasons: (1) I totally wasn't listening intently the first time - I was reading this book on Liverpool music evolution, and (2) I wanted to know if this was an innuendo or if there were legit feelings being conveyed. I'm still not convinced one way or another on that second point, but it's sort of a nice song to the girl as a whole I guess. I may be missing something in my understanding here, but there it is.
"Write Your Name" starts out with this simply wonderful piano line, then kicks the beat back on. Mona Moua is the female voice we're hearing on this one. It's reminiscent of some of Kanye's work with female artists, and actually a revolution with these female-based choruses for rappers that I really dig. The verses themselves are sort of lost on me, but it seems like a love song with some odd choices of lyrics. "Erase all the stars 'cause you light up the sky" is supposed to be a compliment, I know, but it doesn't necessarily come across that way when you start to over-think it like I am. I think the whole song boils down to a good-beat-ed compliment.
I like this next one, "Everything I Love The Most." It's got a great beat and is carried by a steady guitar bass line that's more raw than deep. The sound is pretty great, as the rap has these great quick and slow down moments that make it dynamic. And the concept? Well, it makes sense: "Why is everything I love the most so wrong for me?" I mean - be honest with yourselves - it's a really good point.
"Radio" is cooly reminiscent on old times of the radio and hearing good music on it. "Video killed the radio star, and YouTube killed the video star" might not be a line I necessarily agree with, but the observation is always an interesting one. Who in the industry hasn't had this argument with someone about the state of things? To put it into such a really pretty statement is surprising, but that music and references throughout are really interesting and noble in a way. This one's impressive, and unexpected.
Okay, I laughed a little at this next title: "Slumerican Shitizen" with Killer Mike. Apparently our nice subdued sentiment is done and we're back to anger in the country. I mean, I see the upsides to this, it's just the yelling that's taking me aback just a bit. At least there's an explanation that this is not about rave - it's about being what you are.
Oh and then there's the aptly titled "The Last Song." A nice reflection on life and his own secrets and whatnot, this one closes out in a pretty simplistic way. There's a voice beat, and a piano just hitting here and there to provide the breaths. Oh man though - we get a reason for a lot of this - there's an apology to Daddy, hoping that he's proud of where his son's gotten to. Two minutes in, things are still pretty relaxed and easy, letting the song rely on the words more than anything else. I appreciate things like this. As good as music can make a song, a number that can stand on nearly its words alone as something interesting and introspective can be pretty great.
"Hard White (Up In The Club) - Remix" is the actual final song. This one has T.I. and Slaughterhouse instead of Lil Jon, and is sort of much better just because of that. It's good rap background, minus the chorus which hasn't changed at all. Meh, I don't usually love bonus tracks to begin with (even when the B-sides are so good - that's a rarity), and a remix as one is just kind of annoying.
Added to My Playlist:
- "Throw It Up"
- "Everything I Love The Most"
Surprisingly, I made it through that one without any major bruises. This was one of the more okay rap albums I've heard in a while, and some songs were downright enjoyable. The beginning had me sort of thinking we were going to be in for some intense gangster rap, but there's some actual depth going on here! Sorry, I'm seriously not giving credit where credit is due, and I don't mean to mock at all. This was pretty decent as a whole.