Review Summary: In "History Will Absolve Me", Billy Wood's delivers one of the most aggressive hip-hop releases of 2012.
With metal being relatively quiet this year, most of my listens coming in 2012 have been hip-hop oriented. 2012 has introduced me to lots of great rap artists such as Dark Time Sunshine, Killer Mike, Joey Bada$$, and Washington D.C. MC Billy Woods. Billy Woods has been one of the few pleasant surprises to come out of this year, and even though he has had plenty of hip-hop releases to his name, this is his first one of his to really click with me. “History Will Absolve Me” is definitely Billy's most talked about release to date, which is a big reason as to why I checked this album out in the first place. I've only had the album for just over a week, and it is quickly becoming one of my favorite releases of the year.
Billy's sound is really hard to nail down into words, but it is definitely aggressive. Everything about his style is heavy; his abrasive, intense rapping along with his deep, thought provoking lyricism makes him the type of MC that makes you rethink what aggressive hip-hop really is. His styles in the production vary throughout the album, but he definitely hits it best on his hard hitting, heavy beats. Songs like “Crocodile Tears”, “Freedman's Bureau”, and “Pompeii” are perfect examples of Billy's use of aggressive beats at it's finest. There are also different vocal usage on this LP. There are light vocals and R&B influences on the love ballad track and lead single off the album “Blue Dreams”, and there are also a lot of perfectly executed distorted vocals on the track “The Man Who Would Be King”. The more unique beats on this LP come on the tracks “Duck Hunt”, and “Bill Cosby”. The track “Bill Cosby” puts the piano to extremely good use with it's quirky hooks accompanied by the hard hitting bass in the background. As good as the production was on throughout this album, the track “Duck Hunt” definitely has the best production on the album. It starts out with a sample of the classic Nintendo game Duck Hunt, and then moves into a stellar beat of fluttery synthesizers and hard bass. Overall, the production on this tap is untouchable, and sets Billy up perfectly for his rapping approach.
As good as the production was on this tape, the lyrical themes and the lyrics themselves are what makes this album so great. Billy deals with tons of different themes on this LP, and makes all of them interesting. The song “Crocodile Tears” deals with Billy's opinion on modern day gangster MCs. The line “Thirty-two bars on how to rob and kill your neighbors still got the nerve to ask God to save you “ has to be the hardest hitting line on this entire LP, and also speaks for so much truth. Billy talk about racial tension in a few tracks as well. On the track “Pompeii” you get a really big feel on Billy's anger of how blacks and other races have been treated by whites. That theme also comes out on the track “Freedman's Bureau”. The anger theme continues on the track “Bill Cosby”, where Billy describes a man who had a kid too early, and now because of it has turned into an extremely bitter drunk who doesn't care about anything anymore. Billy also dives into the world of pirating music in the track “DMCA”, in which he describes the modern day music industry as a disgusting thing with it's constant recycling of music.
This LP isn't necessarily perfect. At 18 tracks, this album can tend to drone out at times, and most of that occurs on the second half of the album. Tracks like “Famous Last Words” and “Sour Grapes” aren't necessarily bad, but when paired next to all the other phenomenal tracks on this album they just seem extremely bland and unappealing. The only two tracks that I really don't like on this LP are both of the “Body of Work” tracks. I like the lyrical theme of the tracks, but the beat to me is just so hollow and bland it just makes both of the songs seem like a snore-fest to me. The guest on the track don't really help the song out in any way either. If you were to sum up the problems of this LP in one word, it would be inconsistency. However, these complaints are very small to me and do almost nothing in harming the dynamics of this album.
“History Will Absolve Me” is the most heavy hitting rap album to date this year. Yes, it is even heavier than Killer Mike's “R.A.P. Music”, or either of Death Grips albums. It is becoming my favorite album of the year in hip hop and getting up there in overall albums to come out in 2012. I hope to continue to find more things to love about this stellar LP.