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Slaughterhouse: Self-titled (Review)

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Straight up, this Slaughterhouse CD is tough – forget all the poetic ways to say it.

 

For the moment, set aside all of the antics with Wu Tang that have plagued or helped the group the last few weeks. This debut is tough.

 

In the 90’s there was a widely used term called “catching wreck.” For those that don’t know, to catch wreck meant you put everything into a particular song or verse.

 

Joell Ortiz (New York), Crooked I (Long Beach, CA), Royce Da 5′ 9″ (Detroit) and Joe Budden (New Jersey) define catching wreck in the year 2009. As the members of Slaughterhouse, they are probably the most lyrically gifted group to rise to prominence in recent years. Although they walk in tradition, these days Slaughterhouse stands alone in the landscape of Hip-Hop. These rappers banned together to strengthen their base and likely solidified their collective survival.

 

The larger implications are clear, but looking at this album as a standalone work of art, the Hip-Hop aficionado can feel nothing but joy. “The One” may not be getting the push it deserves due to budget constraints at the label, but the rock-tinged song is truly a commercially viable product that should be getting more airplay. The song is fun, but the album holds far more valuable gems.

 

The first half of the album consists mostly of lyrical excursions like ” Lyrical Murderers,” “Microphone,” and “Slaughterhouse.” It cannot be said enough times that this albums is for Hip-Hop fans that love lyrics. They are slaying rappers. Period. Crooked I expressed their devotion to the craft on “Microphone. “Like James Brown, I’ma die on the microphone / Too many rappers need to leave this… Mic alone” DJ Khalil produced the frenetic “Cuckoo,” a song where all the group members explain why they are crazy as advertised.” Joe Budden says.

 

In the center of the album lies “Onslaught 2,” clearly the second single. For a group that’s been pigeonholed as one for the hyper-male demo, the quartet can write a good single. Fat Man Scoop appears on the chorus, but his showing is not irritating or overbearing.

 

The album darkens rapidly with “Salute Me,” a bluesy joint with a hook sung by Pharoahe Monch. The rappers tell tales wars and the subsequent scars. “I earned every stripe and you know it, now put your hand on your head and push it forward,” commands Joell Ortiz. Crooked expounds, “I been shot, I been stabbed, an imperfect part, like my Grape Street n***as, I gotta purple heart.” “Pray (It’s A Shame)” continues to delve deeper into the reality of the ‘hood with revealing tales of growing up by each emcee. “I’m a product of when my momma gives up,” Royce spews as he and the rest continue to tell depressing, yet amazingly creative stories of how the streets raise the downtrodden and disenfranchised.

 

Slaughterhouse’s self-titled album ends on a rugged note, “Killas.” Fortunately, Slaughterhouse isn’t quite as reckless as their last song implies. And that’s a good thing. Even though they consistently “catch wreck,” Crooked, Joell, Joe and Royce were mindful that there is an art to crafting albums and this was treated with care. Even the skits add to the ambiance of the songs, not detract as the case with a lot of breaks in the music. There are times when it would have been interesting to see the group members pair up on songs in different ways like they executed on “The One,” but those are small criticisms.

 

When I first listened to Slaughterhouse’s debut, I thought they held back, because Royce, Crooked, Joell and Joe are all monsters on the mic. And for these sorts of creatures, it is easy to overdo it. But they sought to do more than a bunch of hot 16’s laced together with hooks. With that said, the crew has crafted an album that is clearly intended to appeal to a variety of fans in Hip-Hop – as it should. So, while this album won’t likely appeal to the Soulja Boy crew, they probably could learn a lyrical lesson or two with Slaughterhouse. No shots.

 

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