In 1998, a group of MCs merged forces with the sole intent of injecting lyricism into hip-hop. Canibus, Ras Kass, Kurupt, and Killah Priest watched their dream of dropping an official full-length disintegrate, as label limbo and personal struggles got the best of The Four HRSMN. Fast forward to 2008, Joe Budden recruits Royce da 5'9", Crooked I and Joell Ortiz and forms a supergroup dubbed Slaughterhouse.
Aside from bringing the HRSMN's dream into fruition, Slaughterhouse had one goal in mind -- to make cerebrum-massaging rap music in the tradition of Organized Konfusion and N.W.A. Their self-titled debut is like poison rain on a scorching summer afternoon in Texas.
The album's high points include: "Sound Off," "Microphone," and "Cut You Loose." The entire album is laced with fiery lyrics and potent production from the likes of Alchemist, Streetrunner, and Focus.
My main gripe with Slaughterhouse's debut is that it's limited in topical range. Some of the bragfest anthems could've been swapped for conceptually varying songs, because there's only so many different ways to rhyme about how ill your flow is. Still, that does little to detract from the album's overall brilliance.
How They Stack Up
Joell Ortiz: Joell walked into the recording session with one goal in mind, "I will not be overshadowed on this album." His determination yields some of the best verses of his career. Whether thumping his chest or searching his soul, Joell attacks every song with the same intensity.
Crooked I: Though Crooked has been rhyming longer than Joell, he approached this album with the hunger of a rookie. With Royce and Joell setting off most of the songs it was crucial to have an outstanding MC follow up their rhymes, and Crooked surely delivered.
Joe Budden: The interesting thing about Budden's role here is that he's rhyming at a high level but you never seem to notice. His talent appears stunted next to the other three because his pacing is a bit slower. A few flat metaphors notwithstanding, Budden made this a well-rounded package.
A Sprawling Debut
After a thorough journey through the minds of these four MCs, you'll be left with the realization that Slaughterhouse embodies mind-bending refractions from an era when hip-hop's top MCs experimented with a whole arsenal of concepts.
It's refreshing to see four individually acclaimed wordsmiths working together for the sheer purpose of rewiring hip-hop's current disposition while staying true to the game's fundamentals. With consistency and more variety, Slaughterhouse could become your new favorite group.Release Date: August 11, 2009