Review Summary: After a lot of disappointments, Hopsin has managed to produce a rap album that easily stands out as a highlight of 2010.
Hopsin hasn't had an easy rise to the top. When he started rapping and producing beats as a teenager, he was being bullied and had been placed in special education classes at school. But it seemed like things had finally gone his way when Eazy-E's widow Tomica Wright signed him to Ruthless Records. But it proved to be another letdown, as Hopsin's debut album 'Gazing At The Moonlight' flopped. Angry and frustrated, Hopsin left Ruthless Records and started his own label, Funk Volume.
After a year of working on a new album, this is the result - Raw, a highly anticipated album which Hopsin made without any help. The album opens with Hot 16's, a bouncy track which introduces the album but leaves you feeling like more is to come. Sure enough, this is followed by Sag My Pants, the album's lead single which shows everything Hopsin does best. The beat is simple but catchy, and the raps are sharp and full of disses - Lil Wayne, Rick Ross, Soulja Boy Tell 'Em and Lupe Fiasco being the latest casualties. Following this track is You Are My Enemy, a hate-filled vent at people who have let Hopsin down.
Unfortunately, anyone who watches South Park will find the hook reminiscent of a certain skit from the show. Trampoline, the next track, is probably my least favourite track on the album, due to the weak beat and irritating hook, but it is followed by I'm Not Introducing You, Hospin's version of Eminem's 'Superman', and I Can't Decide, one of my favourtie storytelling raps ever. The next highlight is Nocturnal Rainbows - the best song from the album and arguably 2010's finest rap song. You can hear the venom in Hopsin's voice as he provokes your thoughts and truly makes you think outside the box.
Nocturnal Rainbows is followed by Heather Nicole, my second favourite track from the album. This is a tearjerking song where Hopsin describes a failed relationship and apologises to his ex.
Sadly, from here the album's quality really drops, with the exception of Where Will I Go and the mildly amusing Baby's Daddy. The rest of the songs are a bit boring or just plain poor, with weak hooks and mediocre raps.
I really enjoyed listening to this album. The good tracks outnumber the bad ones and despite often sounding very similar to 1990's Slim Shady, Hopsin manages to retain his originality.
Songs to hear: Sag My Pants, I Can't Decide, Nocturnal Rainbows, Heather Nicole