Review Summary: The Rhymefest show through and through
It’s 2010, and Kanye West has been in the music industry for quite some time now. During his tenure in the rap game, he’s managed to solidify himself as, well, a giant, ****ing douchebag. Whether it be through his several awards show interruptions, his ridiculously paranoid stance on racism, or his pulverization of paparazzi property, Mr. West has managed to make himself known as an arrogant ****. So, the question is: “what’s the most ***hole-ish thing Kanye’s ever done"” Was it his drunken impedance of Taylor Swift’s award reception, where he proclaimed Beyonce had “one of the best videos of all time”" (MTV snubbed Beyonce. Probably ‘cause she’s black.) Or when he made a music video that ‘slandered’ Evel Knievel" (When you have Evel Knievel sue you, you know you suck.) Or maybe when he went on a tangent stating then-president George W. Bush hates black people" (I would have to concur.) No. It’s none of those. It’s when he destroyed the career of a talented artist, apparently, for the ‘lulz’. Rhymefest’s 2006 debut Blue Collar
, an album that topped at #10 on the hip-hop and R&B charts, and the release of the aforementioned artist subsequently following it, is just another testament to how big of an ***hole Kanye really is.
Rhymefest is a perfect example of a good artist who lacks the supporting elements to be great. A great rapper and an even better writer, ‘fest deserves better than the largely B-list production and generally sappy hooks that riddle Blue Collar
. Considering Rhymefest’s abilities, the appearing artists and the production credits, Blue Collar
is a relative disappointment. With Kanye, Cool & Dre, Just Blaze, and No I.D. being some of the board puppeteers, and Ol’ Dirty Bastard and Q-Tip being two mentionable guest artists, it’s rather shocking that this album doesn’t have the feel of star power being present.
In general, the production is superbly flawed. Whether it is because of the annoyingly monotonous, blaring horn loop that conflicts with the constantly rapid percussion of the Just Blaze cut “Dynomite (Going Postal)”, the subpar Kanye beat on “Brand New”, or the second-tier-bouncy-soul track by Cool & Dre on “All Girls Cheat”, the production is a general fail. Moreover, the crummy Kanye hooks are annoying and the unsatisfying Q-Tip appearance that was wasted on an intro can be aggravating.
So, Rhymefest is largely left to fend for himself. A hip-hop Atlas, Che Smith manages to carry this album on to goodness by himself. Lyrically a transition from egocentric materialism to soulful, street-survivor ruminations via the first half and second half (respectively,) Rhymefest manages to retain his lyrical dexterity throughout the course of the album. When he’s teeing off on wack emcees, bragging about his brand new belongings, and toting himself to the fullest, he displays the aptitude to pull off a great punchline (“Boo - this the brand new jam to dance to/While you givin' me head like shampoo.
”) And while he’s rapping about a ghetto kid who joins the Army for a scholarship, how he should acquire the love of his life, or the various difficulties of street life, he’s able to craft cohesive, deep stories and meaningful metaphors.
Because of his vocal style, he’s enabled to do either exceptionally well. With a deeper, less wispy, clearer, Midwestern version of Rick Ross’s voice, and a wrapping, easily morphable, uptempo flow, Rhymefest can tweak his vocals to better suit his swag or soul. But despite this, Rhymefest thrives when he opts for meaningfulness. This is largely due to the fact that his production is mostly ace when he chooses to do so. The bubbly, yet melancholic piano sample, ‘la, la, la’ female vocal sample, and gentle, backdrop percussion make for a great beat “Tell A Story” and the immense misery of “Bullet” are spot-on paradigms that attest to how great Rhymefest could be if he had sufficient instrumentals.
Instead, Rhymefest is forced to bear the weightiness of a 58 minute, 31 second-long album almost entirely by himself. With only the occasional support of a good beat, Blue Collar
practically serves as a showcase of Rhymefest himself. An impressive lyrical and vocal performance, with a relisten of Blue Collar
, Che Smith has me excited about his upcoming release titled El Che
that appears on another record label. I would rate this higher, but I don’t like my music unless it’s brand new.