Real name, no gimmicks, is a phrase I repeatedly shouted almost ten years ago; like most of you, I clung to anything Aftermath/Shady records related. Therefore, when I first heard Obie Trice, I automatically knew I would buy his album. O’s first major label introduction came in the form of Cheers, which was executive produced by Eminem. The album sold 225,000 in its first week, and seemed like just another fabulous project by the Aftermath/Shady machine. His follow up Second Round’s on Me came out in August of 2006 and failed to have the success of Obie’s first LP, only pushing 80,000 units. Let us fast forward some 6 years and we finally get the inebriated binge drinking third installment entitled Bottoms Up. No longer under Shady records, Obie Trice started Black Market ENT, his own label and decided to release the long awaited project. Now, with that brief history lesson, (I had to do that since I have not really kept up with Trice’s career since Cheers came out) I have a few questions I need answered. First, in a rap game that caters to a younger crowd, can Obie still deliver a solid album? Second, has he grown as an artist enough to still make a relevant splash in the Rap game? Most importantly, are the drinks still on him?
Production – 8
I think the production on this album is by far the best part. It instantly took me back to a time when Aftermath ran my iPod. The hard knocking drums are in a way nostalgic, I hear a lot of Dr. Dre influenced sounds throughout the project. NoSpeakerz and K&Square, which I have never really heard of, produced the majority of the album. They have a very gutter sound and focus mostly on heavy bass echoes and thumps. It has a much more laid back feel then all the current music out right now. I think this is why I enjoyed it so much, it made me want to go back and listen to the good ol days. Dr. Dre and Statik Selektah make contributions as well which mean the album obviously has amazing piano keys. I found myself vibin’ out to the sounds more than anything else, the horns and snares add to what is a wonderfully produced album. This is both a huge strength for the album, but a negative as well. At times it out shadows the former Eminem protégé and I started wondering who else I would have wanted on the project. The lack of up tempo beats made it a bit to repetitive for me, a “fun” or “hype” record somewhere in between all the Knocks would have helped. Having said that, the production is by far my favorite aspect of offering.
Lyrics – 7
I’ve always liked O’s sound and delivery but this time around it seem to just get stagnate. I found myself only being able to get through one or two verses and then being distracted by just how good the beats are. His voice gets a little to monotone for me and although many of the lyrics are heart-felt it just doesn’t resonate with me. The loss of his friend and former label mate Proof seems to be a major source of inspiration. The struggles that life has thrown at the Detroit rapper play out like an open book. The tone of the entire album is different from anything he has released previously with a much more serious and somber feel. Numerous times he addresses the fact that he is still cool with Em and that people doubt his skills. I think it is all summed up in the Intro where he shouts everyone out. From Em to Dre, 50 to Game, D-12 and everyone new/old on the Shady roster. It gets a little repetitive and I just got tired of it early, I was looking for more growth and less focus on the past. I could easily be just a bit harsh on Mr. BME, but I didn’t seem to be pulled in by what he was saying.
Songs – 6
This is the lowest aspect of the album because honestly it just wasn’t for me at all. I kept hoping for that it factor song that would make me at least feel like the album wasn’t a waste. I would hear the beats come on and be like “ah shit” but after about a minute or two into the song, I had to move along. Songs like “BME Up” and “Hell Yeah” sound like perfect tracks for a guest feature. These tracks are okay but just missing something that would make it that much better. I really enjoyed “My Time,” because it is just a perfect fit for the type of style that Obie has and makes him standout the most. I wish the album had more up tempo cuts like it, however “Spend The Day” is assisted wonderfully by Drey Skonie adds a great hook. Obviously, the biggest and most anticipated track is the collaboration with Eminem. “Richard” which Em completely steals is another bright spot on the album. “Going No Where” is my favorite track and is what I am used to from an Obie Trice album. Secrets sounds like something 50 cent would be on, but didn’t work out. Spill my drink and Dear Lord don’t appeal to me at all and the final track “Lebron On” collapses just like Lebron in the forth (I had to). I hate to say that I could have done with more features, cause MC Breed is a nice guest spot, but I just needed more. There subject matter is the same throughout which is a good thing but some diversity would have helped.
Conclusion – 7
Looking back you would think I hated the album, but honestly it’s exactly what I expected. I knew that O was going to address the haters, state that he and his former Label mates/Friends are still cool. I just didn’t get enough of the loose and joking Obie Trice that I’ve come to expect. I know he is grown, has lost a close friend and created his own label… What more can you expect from the guy right? I just didn’t enjoy it as much as I hoped I would. It’s hard to say that this album is a classic like Cheers is (according to Obie himself) but the album is missing something. It had no promotion, was delayed for almost 3 years and lacked the big names his previous offerings had. What it does have is amazing production and heat felt story telling. He has a great delivery and an even greater ability to show the listener where he is in life. For some of you, it will be exactly what you wanted form the Detroit rapper. However, for others, like me you will listen to the album and be a little disappointed. I rather remember Obie Trice the way I was introduced to him… Pounding down Drinks and Cheering us while we drank.
Review by Edgar Gomez for Defsounds.com