Album: “welcome to: OUR HOUSE”
Pros: High production level, entertaining, top-notch flows and lyrical acrobatics, a couple of moments of intense introspection and honesty
Cons: hooks – overuse of sung hooks, not enough concepts lyrically and too few moments of social commentary, lack of a true Slaughterhouse sound.
“Check my rhyme timeline, I took time with every line, Now I don’t rhyme unless a check gets signed” – Joell Ortiz – “Our Way”
That line I think sums up the mentality and approach behind the first Slaughterhouse release with major label backing courtesy of Rosenberg, Iovine and Marshall Mathers aka Shady/Interscope. Joell and Co are at a cross-roads in their careers and intend to take full advantage and in turn soften their sound presumably to appeal to a wider album-buying audience. Frankly I have no issues with that, it is now one of my favorites of the year compared to what else has come out on MAJOR labels this year, it is actually refreshing.
Are there indie releases that offer more depth in terms of social commentary, emotional turmoil, concepts and story-telling? Absolutely! …… but they are not under the same pressures to produce numbers and most are solo emcees with no need to compromise for the greater group.
I only heard this album for the first time the day it actually dropped. However, I had already experienced the wave of hate thrown against the album after its leak a week or so before it dropped officially. As an avid visitor of hip-hop blogs, sites and forums I made the mistake of reading about the album before hearing it and feared the worst. But after having it for nearly a week now, giving it various spins on the infinity system in the whip, I can’t stop my ears from liking the music although I can understand where the negative opinions on this album come from.
This album to me is a barrage of four emcees lyrically abusing some super-clean beats with a couple made for radio joints and “that ignant sh*t” sprinkled in to increase mainstream and urban radio rotation.
The album starts with an ominous sounding skit introducing Slaughterhouse coming in with a chainsaw and then we are introduced to what is essentially the mission statement for the group with Royce’s first lines ”I just wanna be the illest MC (That’s all I want)
The same time being as real as can be” which also has another meaning you can read about. Then continues with the song “Coffin” which sounds like it could have been produced by Dre in his “Appetite for Destruction/Final Approach to Danger” days if it wasn’t for Busta Rhymes yelling out the hook. But it must be the old skool in me, because I like this track. Next comes the last single “Throw That”, the track that should never have passed quality control since I don’t even see it having radio appeal. With Eminem’s terribly corny hook and the groups uninspired effort it is the definition of filler. The album picks back up though with the first single that was released; “Hammer Dance” and followed-up by the No I.D. produced “Get Up” one of the strongest tracks on the album and a good showcase for the humbler side of the emcees. For the rest of the album it swings back and forth between the more celebratory, upbeat and animated songs like “My Life”, “Park It Sideways” and “Frat House” and the more introspective or darker joints like “Goodbye”, “Die” and “Our Way”. By the way “Goodbye” for me has the one of the verse’s of the year from Budden, heartbreaking stuff. The deluxe also has the standout “The Other Side” which IMO should be have been on the core of the album and released as a single.
The end result to me is an album that except for one song, I can play from end to end. Can Slaughterhouse be better? I think they can. And I do think this album has a few flaws and they give easy reasons for people not to like the music. I think what Slaughterhouse have done so far on both albums is put together bodies of work that are strong, but they lack a certain cohesion and direction. There is no real theme outside of ”we are dope rappers who can also have fun and sell records” on either of their releases. I am not sure what is next for the group aspect of their careers but maybe some level of commercial success will give them some breathing room to have time to spend on creating something more artistic or risky the next go around.