Written on paper, this looks to be the ultimate offering for fans. Four MCs that have all proven themselves to be formidable lyricists have joined forces on a single project. However, everything on paper doesn’t always translate once the work is put in and the material begins to come together.
There is an exception to the rule though…Slaughterhouse. Forming their movement since first collaborating on cuts like “Move On” and “Fight Club” in 2008, the four-man frontal assault consisting of Joell Ortiz, Crooked I, Joe Budden and Royce da 5’9 have left listeners salivating uncontrollably.
In interviews building up to the release of their album, it has been strongly affirmed that this project was not made for money and the fact that all four members don’t have high expectations in regards to sales. With that said, they assured fans that they are bringing listeners lyrics and restoring a part of Hip-Hop that has been absent since the re-emergence of the dance craze in music. It looks like the piece has been found as to what the game has been missing as they did not disappoint.
Unleashing a barrage of lyrics, punch lines, and countless reasons to keep your finger pressing the rewind button, this project is uncut heroin for the ears.
“Sounding Off” on the album’s intro cut, Royce introduces the four as separate entities that come together to form the colossal Voltron. Fusing the use of horns as if introducing the rappers as imperial guards, the song seems to start off slow initially and feels like a poor way to open up. But then the Detroit MC literally runs with the track as he picks up velocity instantly and begins to rap with a double time flow which is unlike the rapper, but it works very well. The others fall in line with their hyperactive cadence but Ortiz, however, goes into overdrive when he touches the microphone as he laces the track with a rapid flow comparable to an automatic spraying 16 bars in place of bullets. He hits that hard as soon as the gate opens. Regarded as “The Torso,” Ortiz completely devours the intro and even when the hook comes in you can feel that the Latin rapper is ready for a second helping after leaving the plate completely bare.
Without the pressure and creative control in the hands of major record label, it’s a slugfest where all the rappers are swinging for the fence.
Slaughterhouse delivers as it relates to pounding in the lyrical murder aspect that establishes each member as a serious force behind the mic. On the track “Microphone,” the four horseman make it known that they were meant to do this rap Shyte and they will run over anyone thinking that they are any type of competition. Establishing that they are the illest rappers out, it’s evidenced with bars from Budden like:
“Too many dogs, not enough barking yet/ Too many blueprints, not enough architects…/Fawk record sales, and who the machine markets best/ I’m the last motherfu&*er that ya’ll should test/ I’m the sharpshooter, you the ni**as I target next/ Too many frontin’ like ya’ll that fly/ Reaching cause we set the bar that high.”
“Salute” is another track where they choose not to ask for respect, but instead deebo it and force old schoolers to either sh^t or get off the pot. Highly underrated as solo MCs, they shout out real Hip-Hop heads who take notice as Royce assures listeners that Internet soldiers know it and so do the streets they have surrounded themselves with and declare that they should be regarded as Generals.
“21 rugers on the hip of 21 goons, 21 guns saluting/ Bloody funds that’s what murda money becomes/ 21 bodies on all 21 guns/ You from the D and you don’t f^ck with me you’re lame/ The streets and the Internet f^ck with me the same.”
For those that only expected to hear hot verses, the album is also equipped with conceptual records as they are songwriters as well. Aside from hard hitting lyrics, they are human and are victims to the circumstances of everyday life, but they have no problem in showing it.
“Cut You Loose” finds each member talking about their frustration with Hip Hop and how they sometimes feel as though they want to throw in the towel. Addressing the genre, the four express their disbelief in what has become of something that they used to love almost as if were a girl. Royce even makes reference to the Common track “I Used to Lover H.E.R.” to further elaborate on the love/hate relationship that he has developed.
The game has changed and gone in a direction that has been criticized by most and Slaughterhouse reflects back on what is used to be and how they would rather die than support what stands before them as Crooked raps that he would rather be a “mother’s aborted child.” Ortiz, who became largely noticed with the track “Hip-Hop,” takes to the stand to testify against the current state of the game and how far it has fallen from grace.
“I found out I been pursuing a lie/ It’s nothing like I thought man the proofs in the pie/ Cause ain’t no pudding in the hood where ni**as shoot to survive/ What’s my single, ask dude in the suit and the tie/ Who stole the whip man I’m losing my drive/ I remember when singles used to have cuts on it/ Nowadays the rewind button got mad dust on it.”
After listening to the track, it’s refreshing to see how Slaughterhouse remains on the same topic with each song as every member sticks to the script, a problem that has plagued many group efforts in the past. Seamlessly playing off one another, they are able to develop songs and aren’t just a group built off of superior verses. They are all going in the same direction which makes the album mesh together very well and makes them sound like they’ve been a group longer than they’ve been telling everyone.
The glue remains lock tight even on personal tracks like “Raindrops” where they paint lyrical pictures of their stressed childhoods and family tragedies. The track sends chills with lines like Royce’s:
“I’m a product of when a ni**a’s momma gives up…My daddy’s invisible, my mom is Brenda.”
The piano keys on the production of Filthy Rockwell makes the song feel like its weeping as they play out as raindrops while Slaughterhouse opens their hearts for all to see which is also beautifully accented by the vocals of Novel. Crooked also pens a heartfelt letter to his aunt and how he continues to feel anger over what happened to her which continues to echo in his mind as the raindrops splash.
“Dear aunty, I still feel your timeless sorrow/ Before you died it was like your body was mine to borrow/ Like I jumped into your physical shell/ While you was going through miserable hell/ Saying goodbye to tomorrow/ Everyday it makes me sad, angry and mad/ How you was sent to heaven’s sacred path/ Duct taped and gagged plus raped and stabbed/ Body draped in blood what a fate to have.”
Although it seems hard to believe that these four giants could have flaws and dents within their armor, it is still possible. The major problem, fortunately, is nothing musically. The skits throw off the overall flow of the album and their consistencies serve as too many intermissions. To hear the quality of song after song just to be interrupted by one of the THREE skits kind of takes away from the overall product.
But that’s just a tiny misstep as they use the production from the likes of DJ Khalil, Mr. Porter and The Alchemist to sketch some scathing pictures of what Hip-Hop should sound more like.
The most refreshing thing about these four coming to make a collective effort is the feeling that they’re going for broke. Their hunger is evident as they devour each track in their own respective way. Of all of the releases in 2009, this stands out as the underdogs come out to win the big fight. The bar has definitely been set very high with this release and artists that intend to drop in ’09 need to step up or just get the f$ck out the way and turn their album into a mixtape or something.
When a shark smells blood in the water, it goes to claim its victim and completely tears it apart, barely leaving any remains left to salvage. In this case, these four sharks have claimed the waters. If this is what “D.O.A.” feels the rap game has been missing, then the answer is here and even Jay may need to listen to Hip-hop’s current blueprint. A new era has begun. Welcome to Slaughterhouse.