Monday, August 24, 2009
After all the hype, video blogs and constant internet chatter Slaughterhouse united for an official album. What began as what looked like drunken chatter in the lab between Joe Budden, Royce Da 5’ 9” and Joell Ortiz turned into a number of scathing tracks (“Move On,” “Fight Club,” etc.) and talk of a super group album. But like so many previous talks of collaborative albums dropping I’m unsure how serious people took them. Earlier this month all the doubters were silenced as the four headed monster came through to deliver the official self titled album.
While the hype placed fairly large expectations on this release, if there were ever four emcees who could live up to them it is these guys. Prior to the album dropping they all took time to assure the masses that the album would be surprising and demonstrate different sides from the team. Not entirely clear on what this meant, the album pretty much delivers exactly what it is we have come to expect from these guys – four of the truest emcee’s in the game boding bars. No surprises here.
Backed by a mix of known and unknown beat makers the record plays front to back with little let up of energy. If you are only vaguely familiar with how Crooked, Royce, Budden and Ortiz carry it, you are in for a treat. If you have followed any one of their careers in depth you are in for an introduction to three other like minded rappers who embody what it means to practice this art.
Hip Hop in its current state has artists trying all kinds of new things and pushing the boundaries of what it is that defines the music. You won’t find any of that here, instead be prepared to travel back in time to an era when all that mattered was if you could land a quotable in The Source. It’s not ground breaking or genre changing. It’s just rhyming at its purest.
This isn’t a bad thing but it dates the material from the jump. We’ve heard it all before. These guys have a skill at taking it too the mic more ferocious than anyone in the game. While this could prove to be a problem for anyone foolish enough to attempt a beef with them, it’s far from what warrants repeat listens.
You might rock this album from time to time; you might even give it regular play from now until the New Year. But few cuts here contain much beyond the braggadocios “I’m better than everyone” swag which does little for my mind as I scroll through my iTunes looking for what I want to put on.
(Let's hear more like this?)
When they do break out of this mold you will be given a thoughtful song like “Pray (It’s A Shame)” about the struggles they have faced. While slightly gripping, it still falls victim to the heard it before syndrome. Recycled ideas are tired. No matter how clever your bars are, if the sentiments of your past peers are all you can deliver you should hang up the mic or plan on pleasing a niche market that isn’t ready to move on.
Slaughterhouse isn’t bad, it’s boring. These four hold immense talent yet chose to do what they’ve been doing which could be why they aren’t much further ahead of where they were as solo artists prior to the formation of the group. Sure they have probably all expanded their individual fan bases, however minimally, and they have a unified team to work with behind the scenes which for all of them has proven a down fall in the past. For four as talented individuals to not be aiming for the greatness that comes with transcendence of the past is a disappointment.
But there is always round 2.