Smoke & Mirrors

Artist: O.C.Title: Smoke & MirrorsRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Starrene Rhett

Where there’s smoke there’s O.C., and where there’s O.C. there are mirrors — and he’s holding them up to himself and the entertainment industry. One of the most slept on MCs in the game is back with his fifth album, Smoke & Mirrors (Hieroglyphics Imperium). With soulful and bluesy beats produced by Mike Lowe and Fire Dept., Smoke & Mirrors is 17 tracks of pensive insight into his world.

In the first album where he has total creative control, O.C. manages to reflect on his life, and the hypocrisies and superficialities of the music industry without sounding like the mad rapper. The first lines in “Challenge Y’all,” the album’s lead single, sum everything up, “I walk through fire with gasoline drawers/Not for shock value I do it just ‘cause/this Hip-Hop thing I don’t do it for applause/not knockin’ anybody but f**k an award.” In “This is Me” he admitted to his lackluster sales but says he won’t stop because “rap’s like blood running through his veins.” Other notable tracks on the album are “Shorty,” where he’s blasting older men who knowingly mess with underage girls, “What I Need,” “Brothers Keeper,”“Emotions,” and “Gone.”

Aside from the slightly depressing quality, Smoke & Mirrors is a strong comeback for O.C. and definitely worthy of praise thanks to his clever lyricism, vivid storytelling and honesty.