Let’s not get it twisted, Slaughterhouse is the squad. Flipmode may have said it but Slaughterhouse are it.
A deadly foursome, consisting of Joell Ortiz, Crooked I, Joe Budden and of course Royce Da 5’9, are all names not to be scoffed at as far as lyrical prowess is concerned. Successful entities within their own right, now a collective they are signed to Eminem’s Shady Records imprint, and the time has come for the underground to go overground.
Gaining much notoriety over the years due to their complimentary individuality, gritty rhyme styles and descriptive street tales, the way in which each member of Slaughterhouse exercises their lyrical clout is unlike any other emcee in today’s game. They’re like the hip-hop Avengers.
Royce is the mastermind, the man with an unlimited amount of clever bars that one minute make you laugh – “Hi Rihanna” – and the next take your neck off. Joe Budden is the troubled soul whose love of women and drugs, combined with his personal dramas, makes him one of the best subject matter rhymers period.
Crooked I is the gangster. Once a Death Row Records affiliate, his rapid fire flow, which hears him connect words that shouldn’t really technically work together but somehow do, is a problem to those on the receiving end. Then you have Joell Ortiz. As good a punchline expert as the likes of Lloyd Banks and Fabolous, his ability to comically challenge anyone on record leaves the opposition looking like the laughing stock.
With an E1 self-titled release under their belts, which saw critical acclaim rear its head towards the group, as well as an EP, it was the recent mixtape On The House which drummed up a bit of excitement in preparation for their major label debut. Full of throwaway cuts, straight hip-hop and no hooks, the fans who have been down with the group since day one were satisfied – “Truth Or Truth Pt.1” is possibly one of the year’s finest records.
Now to the album. Standing at 20, yes 20, tracks in length [which hasn’t really been done since the days of No Limit when Master P was saying, “Uhh”] there’s a issue already. In order to get away with such a high number of records on one project you need to be either making a concept album, an album that is more about beats than lyrics, an album where every single track is flawless, or a double album. None of the above apply here.
Produced by AraabMuzik, lead single “Hammerdance” actually proves to be one of the album’s highlights. While Royce doesn’t spit a verse, his lack of ego allows a chemistry between four emcees to reach new heights and create what some would deem one of the hardest hip-hop singles of the past five years. Lyrics, the catchy yet simplistic hook, and a chilling slice of production all combine to create a street anthem for those not up for two stepping to the latest Drake record.
Another couple of joints to be on the look out for include the sample-tastic drug dealer anthem “Flip A Bird,” where Crooked I stands head and shoulders above his Slaughterhouse brethren [“On Twitter they murder my mentions/ cos they heard I was served by a circle of henchmen/ laying in a dirty ditch that bullshit is further than fiction”] and the Busta Rhymes featured “Coffin.” However, the latter starts off as an insanely lyrical affair over a drum heavy instrumental until the hook comes in, and Busta’s vocals are overwhelmed by an electro injection that is just too much to bear. How can a track switch up styles that quickly?
According to Slaughterhouse, Eminem took on a lot of the mixing, mastering, and directorial duties himself as well as featuring on a few tracks. His unfavorable cartoon character vocal switch up [heard on his Encore and Relapse albums] over wacky beats, which really don’t suit what Slaughterhouse are about, taints much of the album. Stay away from the infantile “Throw That,” and also the introductory “Our House.”
Flicking through the album it’s unfair to trash it. As emcees there’s absolutely no faulting the crew’s wordplay and writing skills. Each player goes hard when they’re asked to step up to the plate. The problem it seems are the poor beat choices. It’s easy to see what happened, and it’s also understandable.
It’s hard to jump from an independent grind where you’re making the kind of music you like for your core fan base, to a more commercial platform where you’re under pressure to perform to a wider audience. It’s no longer 1995 where the likes of the Wu-Tang could put out a joint like “Triumph” and people would flock to buy it. Music, especially hip-hop, is diluted now and Slaughterhouse have fallen victims to the changing of the musical guard.
All in all, Welcome To Our House is an average at best offering that could have been chopped down a track or five, and perhaps replaced a few records with some of the mixtape features. Slaughterhouse are still one of the best cliques in music period, they just need coaching in picking beats or not to be so influenced by the powers that be.