Review Summary: Classy, catchy, and thats about it.
Redman & Method Man are common collaborators known for quirky lyrics and gritty beats. Party songs, smoking tunes, etcetera. Do they disappoint that standard on this album? No, but do they surpass it in any way, shape or form? Absolutely not. Thats not necessarily something to get fussy about as the two were never big on attacking your mind with elaborate concepts and impressive, high-end vocabulary-ridden poetry but then again they weren't ever known for being straight up repetitive. When the lyrics weren't going anywhere different, the beats would or the samples or the features or the accent or the flow. On the original "Blackout!" (a highly, highly recommended listen) the pair delivered one of the most consistent dual rap performances I'd ever heard. And in late 2008 I received word that a sequel to the masterpiece was to be released soon enough, before summer '09, giving me plenty of time to figure out which of the songs belong on my play-list. And I have figured that out, but the amount of songs I figured I'd love is much lower than originally planned. An overly assuming notion sure, but it's Red & Meth, one of hip-hops most notoriously infectious duos.
What exactly is
wrong with this record? Well for one, hypocrisy. Since their first hook-up to present day the two have boasted of their relevance in the underground rap scene and their affinity for writing relevant rhymes that cater to someone who wants to hear rap,
and not clubbing music. So they wrote a few Billboard tracks, who cares? Their fans who enjoy their collaborations for the top-notch lyricism, deafeningly raw beats, and extremely original charisma. The problem is, if they're so likely to drop four or five straight up dance tracks on a supposedly "street" album with a hoarse legacy to uphold, can their near infallible consistency finally be questioned? I think so. Whether its the two personally or Def Jam's monstrous thirst for radio hits, its just a flat-out shame. Of course there are songs on the album that redeem a pseudo-underground style (honestly all of these beats could be on a Lil' Wayne mix-tape) but the hooks, the heavy bass, the cheesiness, and the sheer repetition nearly make me want to disown these two rappers. Now you may think I come off as some back-packer needlessly angry at a couple MC's who are just pursuing a different artistic direction. Perhaps, but the problem here is that the "artistic" part of that equation is non-existent. The duo's flow is solid and the lyrics are okay but does that make up for the production and overall vibe of this record? Nope, even if you enjoy it you'll admit, this record is hype music.
"Blackout! 2" despite its shortcomings is an extremely uplifting record. I've yet to hear a better cruising record this year and I will probably utilize it as such over the summer. I've also yet to hear a more pleasing slew of songs during any given type of intoxication. Red & Meth have always been geared towards the hop, leaving the hip for later (namely this record) and proceeded to write songs that despite their gritty style could be danced to. Songs specifically designed for a very lively atmosphere, whether it be a party or a stage, the two do not disappoint in that area and probably never will. What with the countless major features on this record (Bun B, Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, Keith Murray, Poo Bear, DJ KaySlay etc) and the smooth beats, its hard not to get caught up in the celebratory attitude. One shouldn't doubt Red & Meth's ability to make you move...these songs are nothing compared to their past material but you will get jiggy just the same.
Of course they haven't entirely sold-out. Specifically on songs such as "Father's Day", "I'm Dope Nigga", "Four Minutes To Lock Down", and "Diz Iz 4 All My Smokers" the duo bring out their street side for a brief reconciliation. They don't sound as sincere on these tracks as they did back in the day, their metaphors aren't as snazzy and the production is still a tad Kanye, but these songs shouldn't be overlooked. These songs sound like an electronically-driven Wu Tang Clan featuring Redman...
Redman...a predicament. He used to be a problem for all the right reasons, what with a unique delivery and unmistakable style - but on this album he's a huge let-down. His lyrics are poor to say the least and his rhythm is decent but not as aggressive and prominent as he can be. His performance is best described as forgettable on "BO2". Which makes me sad, as Redman is one of my favorite rappers and I know he's capable of doing fantastic solo albums and relevant feature verses - so why is he so lazy here? He sounds exactly the same on nearly every single track, the skits he's on aren't funny at all (which seems trivial but Red's skits are usually hilarious) and the beats used on this album don't compliment his MCing whatsoever. I don't know whether to blame him or not, which makes judging this album so much more difficult. He has had to reconstruct the way he raps entirely to fit the air-headed feel of "Blackout! 2" and it took a sharp turn for the worse.
Method Man's performance on this record was underwhelming but considerably better than Redman's. A nice break, for on the original "Blackout!" Redman quite obviously stole the show. Meth has kept his style relatively similar to his roots but doesn't sound tedious in doing so. Method Man's heavy focus on flow totally agrees with the beats on this album and he gives it a much needed breath of life. He has a knack for taking a relatively average lyrical verse and turning it into something that stands out, what with his signature scratchy voice and his celebrity charisma. A man of films, Method's personality can easily catch the attention of a vaster audience than Redman will ever have. I'm not downplaying Red's rapping skill, but who is more recognizable?
To summarize, I don't ever again want to hear something like "Look at my shoes, look at my car, how bout dat nigguh?" come out of Red or Meth's mouths. Never. But I can't be so sure that wish will come true, in fact I'm rather sure it won't on account of the overall generic atmosphere of "Blackout! 2". It's certainly a nice sounding record but that isn't enough for fans of this once great hip-hop powerhouse, the duo that could brutally murder any beat you'd put them on. And once again, its rather hard to judge this album as it doesn't sound like Red or Meth is speaking to me, rather their paper-chasing, radio-friendly creative restrictions. Call me a traditionalist, but this is not Redman and Method Man. Check out the original "Blackout!" first, and don't get this expecting more of the same or even better. Just to clarify, my hopes were high but not high enough to solely make this into the massive disappointment that it is. Criminally average, something I never thought I'd say about these two. I just hope "How High 2" doesn't follow the same path (oh yeah, that baby's in the works.)