Rating: 8.5 / 10
There hasn't been hype in the Hip-Hop world for a group like this arguably since the Boyz N Da Hood collaboration between Block and Diddy for Bad Boy South's imprint, and even that statement is a reach, depending on what region you're from. With the likes of Crooked I, Royce Da 5'9, Joell Ortiz, and Joe Budden joining forces to create the group Slaughterhouse, it was guaranteed to take some people by surprise, and the internet by storm. Needless to say, the crew caught everyone's attention with the release of their critically-acclaimed self-titled LP... including Eminem.
After a sticky label situation was ironed out, the Slaughter was finally signed to a major with Shady Records, and the hype continued to swirl them after impressive singles before the album promotion, riveting freestyles on BET's Hip-Hop Awards Cypher, and charismatic interviews. However, it's coming close to the time where the group is pressured to deliver another quality project for mass consumption. Before the main course is served soon, Slaughterhouse has teamed with DJ Drama to release On The House, a mixtape/entrée that comes through on the lyrical aspect that we've all come to know and love (or hate) from the machine.
To be as clear as possible, this is not a free album, but a mixtape to the heart. Songs range from original production to clever samples (such as the flip of the iconic Chicago Bulls theme music on "Juggernauts"), and some tracks feature all four members while others are essentially solo freestyles (in the term of long written verses, not off the top verses). There's not a moment when the lyricism stops, so if you're one of the people that don't appreciate "rappity-rap", then you might want to skip this.
For those who enjoy lyricism, however, the bars here are bar none, and concerning the output of the entire group, their quality may only be matched by another machine under the Interscope Records umbrella: Top Dawg Entertainment (this isn't a means to compare the two groups, however, and shouldn't be taken as such). Flashes of the Slaughter that can craft full songs are seen in the midst of the lyrics, as "Coming Home" has the group addressing issues concerning them being done for, and "Gone" has the group delivering potent verses regarding label issues, fan questions concerning the group, hometown (lack of) love, and even a bit of self-consciousness from Royce:
"These questions and suggestions, they hard to maintain /
When you f*ck with Flex but worry 'bout what Charlamagne think /
'cause you from the D and don't get radio play in your own home /
Long as y'all playing Sean I'm good, I'm grown..."
That verse might've been the best on the project, until Joe Budden lets loose an incredible verse addressing the state of his group and his feelings on it that has to be heard, even if it's strictly on the basis that it's a Mood Muzik-type verse that most astute Slaughterhouse fans will point to if the album fails to impress:
"Thought we were defying the odds, I thought that we weathered the storm /
I thought we traveled the same road, I thought that we'd never conform /
Don't tell me you bastards tricked me, don't tell me that I was just wrong /
'Cuz now I'm masked and it gets to me whenever we 'bout to perform.."
Again, the project delivers lyrically on almost all fronts, but whether that's an indicator of a "watered-down" LP remains to be seen. For now, this download's on the house, in hopes that you'll be willing to shell out cash for the upcoming LP under Shady. Let's hope that the Eminem-flavored album is worth the money, as the group has been through their fair share of issues to get to this position and it would be a shame to see Joe's worries spoke into existence.
Download the mixtape below.