Music Thoughts – Slaughterhouse: No Fake MC’s
My thoughts on Slaughterhouse’s new CD Welcome to: Our House.
At the 2011 BET Awards, Shady 2.0 blew up the internet with their cypher. Yelawolf, Slaughterhouse, and Eminem destroyed the competition and put the industry on notice.
Hardcore rap fans knew of all six men, but casual listeners likely only knew Eminem as he’s one of the highest selling rap artists of all-time, maybe Royce Da 5’9″ thanks to his connection to Eminem, and maybe Joe Budden from back in the “Pump It Up” days. Yelawolf, Crooked I, and Joell Ortiz weren’t really on the mainstream radar but proved in the cypher that they can hang with some of the best. Yelawolf dropped Radioactive shortly after the BET Awards and I must admit, it was a pretty disappointing album. According to the man himself, he tried to make radio friendly hits (hence the name of the album) and in doing so, he got away from the style and lyrics that had fans in a frenzy when he led off the Shady 2.0 cypher.
Slaughterhouse was next up, but not before multiple album push backs that had me wondering if Detox would be released first.
I was already excited for the Slaughterhouse release because it’s been a rather weak year of rap. So far I’ve only really enjoyed Life is Good by Nas and Strange Clouds by B.o.B. Don’t get me wrong, there have been some good albums this year, but nothing that really captured me outside of those two. Nicki Minaj, 2 Chainz, and Rick Ross in particular put out trash. Even DJ Khaled, who I can’t really consider a rap artist because he just says the same two things over and over again, put out a pretty poor collaborative effort despite, as usual, recruiting some good artists.
Finally, this past Tuesday, Welcome to: Our House was released.
It did not disappoint. After hearing the basic rhymes and schemes of Rick Ross and 2 Chainz, the lyrical stylings of Slaughterhouse was a breath of fresh air. This album might not appeal to the absolute hardcore hip hop fan who has been following these four since the day they burst on the scene, but if you expected that, then you don’t understand how business works. Unlike Yelawolf though, Slaughterhouse didn’t sacrifice their style for commercial success.
Let me go ahead and get the complaints out of the way. I’m a huge Eminem fan, in fact, he’s the reason I listen to rap music, but I’m not blind to his flaws. “Throw That” and “Asylum” are rather weak. I don’t know what Eminem’s obsession with his dick is, but “Throw That” once again brings it to light and it’s something that I can do without. “Asylum” isn’t a bad track thanks to the lyrics, but Eminem’s hook seems off and the beat is something that Bizarre, who is an extremely weak and basic lyrical artist, should be rapping over. Slaughterhouse does the best with both, but in the end they’re rather skippable tracks. Finally, “Our House” is a great track and Eminem fits on it perfectly, both with the hook and his verse, but I didn’t like it being the opening track as it doesn’t feature a verse from Joe Budden. I feel like the opening track on the album should’ve been used to established all four artists and it fails in that regard. As a stand alone track though, it’s fantastic.
Everything else on the album is outstanding. “Get Up” is my personal favorite as No I.D. puts together a strong beat using a “Ali In The Jungle” sample and the lyrics from all four are on point. Other beat standouts are “Hammerdance” produced by AraabMuzik and “Flip A Bird,” “Walk of Shame,” and “My Life” which are all produced by StreetRunner.
Of course great production can be quickly ruined if the artist doesn’t do anything with it. Luckily for producers on Welcome to: Our House, Salughterhouse does the most with every beat they were handed. They rarely stray from the concept of the tracks title and, as you’d expect, come with plenty of lyrics. “Flip A Bird” might be the strongest lyrical track as all four artists deliver in the kitchen, or in this case the booth. “Goodbye” is an emotional track where Joell, Joe, and Crooked open up about their past. The track is essentially a shortened version of “Truth or Truth” (which checks in at over 12 minutes) and it would’ve been nice if Royce contributed a verse, but they manage to draw you in with their lyrics and get you invested as them as people. The same goes for the tracks “The Other Side” and “Rescue Me” which aren’t quite as emotional, but touch on life outside of the studio and personal demons respectively.
One of the best parts of the album is that it’s not watered down with a ton of guest appearances. As mentioned earlier, Eminem is featured on three songs, contributing one verse and a few hooks. Busta Rhymes, Skylar Grey, Cee Lo, and Swizz Beatz also add hooks but the only other guest verse is performed by B.o.B. on the final track of the album. With four elite MC’s, it would have been a travesty to cut some of their verses in order to add a feature from popular artists, but in today’s music industry, it was something that I was worried about, even though it never seems to be an issue in the Shady camp.
Again, if you’ve been following these four since day one, you might be upset at party tracks like “Frat House” and “Park It Sideways” but what’s great about Slaughterhouse is that they take those concepts and keep them fresh. Crooked I in particular on “Frat House” kills the party concept with some clever punchlines, including one of my personal favorites, “Her pussy hotter than a chili pepper/I tell her lay down and give it away give it away now.”
Is Welcome to: Our House a perfect album? No, but albums rarely are perfect nowadays, especially when expectations are as high as they were for the first major label studio release from the group. However, if you’ve actually been impressed with the recent releases of 2 Chainz and Rick Ross, you’re going to be blown away by Slaughterhouse. And if you’re looking for good rap music, you’re doing your ears a disservice if you don’t listen to the lyrical stylings of Royce Da 5’9″, Joell Ortiz, Joe Budden, and Crooked I.