Review Summary: A real grower, and a top 10 candidate for 2008.
No album grew on me as insidiously as this one did this year.
When this record first really hit me, I'd just started a sales job. Door-to-door sales, no less, selling Sky television on the behalf of a company infamous all over the internet for being just about the worst company in the world to work for. I was doing a 70+ hour week, getting paid about only £40 ($70) a week more than somebody doing half the hours on minimum wage, getting doors slammed in my face and random items thrown at me on a daily basis, and exhausting myself to the point where I had no time for any kind of social life, even on with my fiancee who I lived with. The Ugly Truth
was a great album for that point in time because it motivated me, it got my blood pumping, it got me ready to face anything. Typically that's a role hip-hop fills in my life anyway (every exam I sat, from AS levels right up to my degree finals, was immediately preceded by Eric B & Rakim's "I Ain't No Joke"), but this was a particularly special instance. It takes a lot to keep you going for that long, against that much animosity, and The Ugly Truth
When it hit me hard for the second time, I was about the leave that same job. I was fainting from exhaustion while out working, in places I'd never visited before. I was being emotionally blackmailed by my boss to stop me leaving or raising concerns about the conditions under which I was working. My fiancee was now threatening to leave me because she never saw me. Her interfering best friend couldn't stop criticizing me for not taking a job that was more stable, as if there were any going. I hated just about everything around me. The Ugly Truth
then became even more pertinent. I mean, here's a man rapping about burning Gap sweaters in Common's name because everything he said meant nothing when he put on them chains. Here's a man telling Nas he's got a nerve to say hip-hop's dead when he makes a living off his fans who think he understands them. Here's a man who spits at frantic speed, then immediately follows it with the line 'I hate when crowds are easily impressed by double-time'. Prolyphic isn't somebody taking shots at the big names because he can, or somebody taking shots at everyone else in the underground because he's better, or somebody attacking sacred cows to make a point - he's somebody doing all three
, fighting an impossible battle on all fronts because it's all he feels he can do. He's not the most venomous rapper I've heard, but he might be the most infectious with it. There were two days when I was out working when I disappeared for an hour and a half just to sit on a park bench and listen to this record. One of those days, it rained. It was perfect.
That pretty much sums up why The Ugly Truth
is a genre classic. It's an album capable of moulding itself to any bad situation you might find yourself in - it can be motivational and make you defiant, and at the same time it can give you the room to wallow and seethe with anger. On a more technical level, Reanimator's largely melancholy, guitar-heavy production makes a refreshing change from most things you could compare this to, and remains fresh throughout, and Prolyphic's flow is often outstanding. But it's the feeling this album achieves and maintains, the one of total, unrelenting anger and frustration that somehow still manages to completely avoid the kind of self-hatred and self-pitying that someone like Eminem sometimes fell into at his peak. At 15 tracks, this is one of the few hip-hop albums that I'd actually suggest could be longer than it actually is, just so long as any extra tracks were as pissed-off and inspired as the likes of "Way That I See It", "The Ugly Truth", "On The Side", "Sleeping Dogs Lie", "Born Alone".....and the rest.
I mean, basically it's a great album that's helped me through a fairly crappy year, and I don't think I'm the only one who can say that. If I am, then it's just a symptom of the fact that more people need to hear this.