Review Summary: THROW YO HANDS IN THE AIR IF YOUS A TRUE PLAYER
People say hip hop is in a state of emergency, and is in dire need of help. These people are obviously on drugs or have clearly only heard the new Gucci Mane or Soulja Boy single or whatever horrific trend is going on. What’s really happening is, hip hop, unlike most of music, is just becoming even more inconsistent as its life goes on. For every hip hop masterpiece like Deltron 3030
and whatever Def Jux or Rhymesayers releases, we get garbage from whatever new trend in hip hop comes about and the millions of copy cat rappers that deicide to jump on the Soulja Boy boat or the T-Pain boat, or whatever boat just to say that they’re on one. Most rap, however, is a blandly in the middle, with sometimes strong subject matter or flow hindered by either one of those things being weak or hazardously weak production values. B Real, coming from the legendary rap group Cypress Hill, writes a record that is filled witth only good songs and bad songs, with almost nothing in-between.
And essentially that’s really where B Real’s Smoke N Mirrors
really fails. There is not a single snatch of consistency on here. It’s all crap or it’s all awesome. It opens up with the almost singularly New York style “Smoke N Mirrors”, and it’s really relaxing and easy opener. B Real seems open with his intention, give a full hearted salute to hip hop and its many styles, letting producers make Smoke N Mirrors
incredibly diverse and such while B Real keeps to himself with his story and gangsta rhymes. But soon after, we realize what’s really going on: B Real is abandoning his old Cypress Hill material. Instead, he’s taking on a glitz and glamour, commercial pop hop style. It doesn’t feel like the dark latin alley way in LA anymore, but more it feels like a music video for a real ‘gangster’. “Gangsta Music”, “Get That Dough”, and the worst of all these “Dr. Hypenstein” show us a more dance-in-the-club-oriented style from B Real, and all of these attempts are so bland, and feel awkward in the sense that B Real is using his usual spicy speed-morphing rap flow.
However, after quite a few duds, the last few songs show us what the future has in store for B Real. “1 Life” gives us a layered intro involving acoustic guitars, pianos and maracas, and it ultimately gives us the first bit of B Real’s latin flavor on the album. After that, all the songs are equally more personal and reflective while the beats are fresher, easier, smoother, and more embracing in style. With the exception of the hooky and groovy “When We’re ***ing”, which works for the most part other than the embarrassing singing from Kurupt, with the 80s style poppy synths and the G-Funk-like bass, while Too $hort gives us his usual rap about ***ing and bitches.
With Smoke N Mirrors
, B Real says “*** you” to his former fans for the most part, and hopes that his new fans will like him. Next to none of the songs are have any Cypress Hill influence next to the occasionally use of percussion, and of course three of the last four tracks. It’s still a good album, the production values are fine, and even when the rhymes falter, B Real’s flow never does, it’s just inconsistent in the area of song. With the amount of guests on here, it’s clear that B Real, even in 2009, wasn’t ready for a solo album, and felt that guests were needed in order to make the album decent or sellable. Still, it’s a nice commercial hip hop album whose highlights will keep you coming back for more, and if this manages to get anyone into then Cypress Hill, then it’s all good.
Smoke N Mirrors is:
Recommended for die-hard fans of Cypress Hill and blunt smokers everywhere.