Review Summary: Hopsin delivers a genuinely bitter set of hip-hop tracks. Just don't judge him by the white contacts.
For people growing up in the late 1990s, Marshall Mathers was the ultimate way to disobey their parents. Under the stage name Eminem
, Mathers wrote some of the most offensive music ever revealed to mainstream audiences – and the kids ate it up. If you weren’t blasting The Marshall Mathers LP
through a boombox while your parents were out of the house, you were a nobody. Mathers rode the “bad-boy” image (along with the fact that he was white) to unparalleled heights, breaking all sorts of records on his way to being arguably the most recognized hip-hop artist of all time. His style has been examined to no end and countless rappers have tried time and time again to cash in using the same methods, though none of them have been particularly successful. Many of them, such as Marcus Hopson, are stuck in the underground scene with little to no attention paid to their talents.
Hopson, who goes by the stage name Hopsin
, released Raw
last year to little commercial recognition. His style wasn’t seen as mainstream enough for real world success, getting him cut from his original record label and forcing him to create his own. While it’s true that Raw
contains many similarities to Eminem’s earlier works, Hopsin’s talents as an emcee and a producer shine through the comparisons. He’s as aggressive a rapper as I’ve heard in years, utilizing elements of horrorcore to go along with his constant disrespect of the American government and mainstream hip-hop artists. Though his lyrical content is fairly disturbing, Hopsin has actually spoken out against the positive portrayal of careless alcohol and drug abuse given by more famous rappers. It’s quite obvious that Hopsin is tired of seeing artists he deems “undeserving” achieve worldwide prosperity.
The album itself is an excellent blend of angry, bitter verses with melodic choruses. Hopsin does 95% of the work himself, showcasing his voice in more ways than just rapping. Perhaps his most famous song is “Sag My Pants”, where he takes aim at several mainstream artists including Lil’ Wayne, Rick Ross, Lupe Fiasco, Soulja Boy and Drake. Hopsin clearly doesn’t care about making friends in the rap scene, even going so far as to say, “Not tryin’ to be your buddy in this rap ***, I like dissin’. So you can kiss my ass and watch the white eyes glisten.” Nocturnal Rainbows, which is quite easily the best track on the album and one of my favourite rap tracks ever, shows his distaste for President Barack Obama and his “charming smile.” It’s an intelligent look inside the numerous problems plaguing modern society, and it just goes to show that it would be senseless to judge Hopsin by his gimmicky white contacts alone; the man has an undeniably vast vocabulary. “I Can’t Decide” depicts gang violence and the harsh consequences that come with driveby shootings through the use of storytelling.
While he is at his best when showing off his serious side, Hopsin also ventures into much more offensive territories (especially in the latter part of the album). Most of it contains humorous verses and punchlines that will either shock you or make you chuckle. In “I’m Not Crazy”, he depicts himself beating orphaned children with bags of oranges, torturing dead people and mutilating his own genitals. It’s all to poke fun at the critics calling him “disturbing” and “insane”, yet it seems to just add fuel to that fire. “Baby’s Daddy” is simply hilarious, mocking a botched one-night stand between his ex-girlfriend and man she cheated on him with. It’s the kind of rap song that will make you say, “Did he just say that"” One of my favourite lines on the album is “rumour has it you sucked his d*ck then kissed me.”
Though it’s groundbreaking at all and treads on much of the same ground Eminem
discovered ten years ago, Raw is a fantastic look inside the twisted mind of an intricate lyricist. While I wasn’t particularly fond of some of his guest choices, I was very impressed by Hopsin’s skills as a producer and by the fact that he sung almost all of his own choruses. He’s never going to get away from nagging comparisons, but one thing is certain: if he keeps making genuine records like this, he isn’t going to be underground for much longer.