Hip Hop has seen its fair share of “super groups,” from The Firm to The LOX to the short lived Child Rebel Soldier. And while the talent is undeniable, historically they have come up short in terms of commercial success. Now, after signing a deal with Shady/Interscope, Joe Budden, Crooked I, Joell Ortiz and Royce da 5’9″, known collectively as Slaughterhouse, look to break that streak with their major label debut, Welcome to: OUR House.
One of the biggest complaints about the singles released for OUR House is that the production does not fit the style of Slaughterhouse. However, until now they have never had access to big name producers such as Boi-1da, No I.D., AraabMuzik or StreetRunner. And as we all know all too well, in order to make it big, you have to have some songs that are either radio, MTV/BET and/or club friendly. The Four Headed Monster achieves this with tracks such as “My Life,” “Throw It Away” and “Hammer Dance.” While writing this review I found myself thinking, what exactly is Slaughterhouse’s sound anyway? With only one independent album, an EP, a mixtape and countless loose tracks, it’s hard for me to find a common element in the production. Other than the singles, I feel as if the rest of the album has good production. The production is never repetitive and its fluidity is excellent.
Standouts: Hammer Dance, Flip A Bird, Goodbye, Die
I can understand worrying about the content and production being too mainstream, but to question whether the House Gang will continue to deliver lyrically is absurd. If “On the House” proved anything, it’s that these cats will be a force to reckon with in the Hip Hop game until they decide to hang the mics up. Now I don’t want to single out any MC, because this album is a group effort, but Crooked I continues to awe with his way with words. On the title track, he begins his verse with the lines: “In my house, the lights out, no utilities in the facility, feelin my life’s bout, to wipe out, these feelings I’m feelin be killin me. I pull a mic out cant strike out, cuz if winnin is really my enemy, I pull a nine out, blow my mind out, is the end of me really serenity?” These lines, for me, put the album in a nutshell. They find a way to combine their lyrical prowess with introspective content.
Standouts: Our House ft. Eminem & Skylar Grey, Coffin ft. Busta Rhymes, Die, Place to Be ft. B.o.B
For years people have been saying Slaughterhouse is a one trick pony. Lyricism, but WTOH proves otherwise. After “Goodbye” leaked I knew that the first 3 singles were purely for promotion, and I wouldn’t be surprised if in the future we find out this album gave them the same problems Lasers gave Lupe. Regardless, the Slaughter still came through with quite a few quality songs. They get personal with “Goodbye,” talk about their journey to this point on “Our Way,” and celebrate their new found success with “My Life” and “Place to Be.” As a long time fan I’m impressed by the growth the group and individual artists have shown in their ability to make music, not just jaw breaking bars. I was also surprised at how well SH and B.o.B sounded together on “Place to Be”, as they are pretty different as far as their styles of Hip Hop. On another note, singer Skylar Grey is phenomenal on the hooks of “Our House” and “Rescue Me”. If Em or Dre haven’t signed her yet, they should before someone steals her from right under their noses.
Standouts: Our House, Place to Be, Rescue Me, Goodbye, Our Way, The Other Side
While this is admittedly not what I expected (as im sure most of you will agree) from the best group in Hip Hop, I feel once you give the album a chance and a real listen you see this is really a step forward for them. We heard from day one that Em had his hands all over this album (thus, we should feel lucky we didn’t get any “Big Weenie,” “Without Me” or “My Band” esque tracks) and even then we knew that a major label album would need the okay from the suits upstairs. With that in mind, I feel as though Slaughterhouse did about as well as they could with Welcome to: OUR House. They showed not only their versatility as artists, but an ability to step out of the comfort zone which, as I’ve said before, is lyricism. Will it be as successful as say a Young Money or G.O.O.D. Music album? Probably not, but I’d argue that record sales have an inverse relationship to the actual quality of the music (except in a few rare cases, one of which being the executive producer of this album). Every artist must walk a fine line between pleasing old fans, and acquiring new ones. Others have said “On the House” was for the hardcore fans, while “OUR House” was for the newbies and mainstream. I’d argue that old fans and Hip Hop Heads alike can enjoy WTOH just as much if they’re willing look at Slaughterhouse as artists, and not just MCs.