Review Summary: "Did the man who invented college go to college?"
Hopsin has always been a rather polarising figure, whilst many people love him for his honesty, technical skill and subject matter, many others seem to hate him with a passion for his cheaply produced beats, corny lyrics and gimmicky persona. Me however, I fall in between. I like Hopsin, I'm not head-over-heels for him but I can appreciate his rapping skill, tight flow, the fact he self-produces all his albums and how he likes to switch up the subject matter on most of his songs, a perfect example of how Hopsin can be enjoyable is his album Raw, a rather fun album full of great character, interesting subject matter and catchy hooks, however whenever Hopsin wanted to get serious on this album he could pull it off on songs such as Nocturnal Rainbows and Pillow Man. And that's a skill Hopsin just couldn't pull off on his next album, Knock Madness, an album I and many others weren't big fans of. And that's not to say there weren't quality songs on that album, songs like Rip Your Heart Out and Hip Hop Sinister were thrilling, fist-pumping, songs that were just straight-up hardcore hip hop bangers. But that's where the main problem with Knock Madness came in: the consistency. On this album we'd see Hopsin jumping around from fun, cleverly-written, angry hip hop anthems to cheesy love songs with completely over the top singing (it also didn't help that most of the time the notes he would try to reach were just not in his range) and shallow corny beats, leaving Knock Madness to be an uneven mess that even Hopsin claims to not be a big fan of on this new album here. So is this album much better" Well...
For one Hopsin's skill and flow are still present, as he displays on the first song Forever Ill, which on this song you will notice that Hopsin has replaced his cringe-inducing puns and metaphors with a more braggadocious hip-hop style. This is a recurring theme on the album, and seems like a good thing at first but after a while you will realise this leaves Hopsin lacking some of the appeal he had, the goofiness is now replaced with cockiness, which isn't always necessarily a bad thing on this album, but after a while can get quite tiring. Take for example, Crown Me, which despite Hopsin seemingly believing in this song that he deserves to be crowned as the king of hip hop, this is a rather dull and forgettable listen due to many reasons. The beat on this song is extremely generic and sounds like something any mainstream rapper he'd usually diss would have no problem rapping over, the chorus being incredibly dull with Hopsin repeating over and over "Gimme that crown boy! I said gimme that ***!" which I don't know if it's supposed to come off sounding threatening or whatever but comes off sounding more hilarious and just embarrassing than anything else. And a massive problem on this song is the lack of memorable lines, something Hopsin has always been good at doing, even if they're only memorable because of how stupid they are. Nothing Hop says on this song is worth another listen, just boring stock braggadocious rap lyrics.
Also going back to the beats situation, the beats on Raw and even Knock Madness were never really anything to right home about, but they were never nearly as under-developed and flat as this. The beats on this album sound like first drafts, ideas, they wouldn't be out of place on some upcoming rappers first mixtape, and that's a shame because you can tell that maybe with a bit more fleshing out and detail they could've sounded good. And the beats aren't the only thing here that feel under-done.
As most people know Hopsin has never been really known for making great hooks, and this album is no exception. Whilst he cuts back on the excruciating singing, that doesn't save the choruses here. Most of the time they feel incredibly phoned-in and lazy, for example the song Ramona. A rather humorous track that despite Hopsin's cringe-worthy acting in the beginning, is a fun listen about an obsessive fan girl who keeps stalking Hopsin, trying to get into his pants. In this we really see Hopsin's story telling skill, and also a rather funny guest verse from label mate Jarren Benton with some some memorable one-liners such as "She be like "Jarren, oh my God, you're the ***/I'll never, ever, ever, ever brush my teeth now that my breath smells just like your dick". But the hook on this thing is just so effortless with Hopsin repeating "Ramona" again and again. Another song with interesting subject matter ruined by a lazy hook is Mr. Jones, a song about a rapper Hopsin used to know who would think he was the *** and never blew up. The song is essentially Hopsin taunting this Mr. Jones character and the verses are interesting enough but the chorus once again is nothing but a phrase repeated again and again, this time being "Say something now Mr. Jones/Ooh, what you gonna say now Mr. Jones".
When the hooks aren't completely effortless they are just really cheesy. Like on the song Fort Collins, a track which is essentially an apology letter from Hopsin for an incident that happened on his Knock Madness tour where he fell into depression and decided to ditch a show, and on this track Hopsin really does feel sincere, also a pleasant surprise is Dizzy Wright's guest verse where he makes a brave move and criticises Hopsin for his mistakes. But of course a great track just isn't meant to be, when the hook comes with lyrics that feature Hopsin trying to be poetic such as "cause I been living on the road trying to get high from my low".
But hands down, both the corniest beat and chorus go to Ill Mind Of Hopsin 7, with its sorta Egyptian sound and a bunch of men chanting "Hey! Oh!", it's a bit hard to sit through. And the chorus on this thing, just... just read... "It's... us... mind... power... live... life... mind... power". Yeah, do I really need to say anything. And it's kind of a shame, because this is one of the most interesting tracks on here. Here we see Hopsin starting to doubt his belief in Christianity, picking apart the details, questioning the logic behind what the Bible says. It's quite an intriguing listen (despite some odd lines here and there) and at the end leads to Hopsin's conclusion that he's gonna live his life for him and not follow any religion. I suppose if you can look past the beat and hook this is still an interesting track though.
However there's some tracks that just don't work at all. My Love shares the an extremely cheesy beat with an overly-sugary melody and of course a lacklustre chorus. But this time the subject matter and Hopsin's flow can't save the track. In this song you'll be wishing for the over-the-top singing from Knock Madness, as here Hopsin sings in a way that makes him sound bored out of his mind. That being said this is just a cheesy love song about Hopsin's girlfriend that would actually feel right at home on Knock Madness. Not that there's anything wrong with writing songs about your relationship but here Hopsin doesn't present it in a way that would make the listener care, making this one of the harder songs to sit through. But the absolute worst song on this album, is hands-down, Fly. This track is basically everything wrong with Hopsin displayed in a few minutes. The corny beat and hook, extremely cheap-sounding production, Hopsin trying to tell everyone what's what, and sounding like a complete ***ing idiot. On this song Hopsin is trying to tell us that society has us brain-washed into thinking that we need all these products and fast food and that we need to look perfect. And on this track Hopsin comes off as the biggest hypocrite, saying how you should not try live up to society's expectations and follow your own lane, which I find funny because earlier in the album on Crown Me, he takes a shot at men who aren't fulfilling gender roles, "Rocking feminine ***, tryna act homo/Old bi-ass niggas can't bypass niggas/"I can't change even if I tried"-ass niggas/Tight jeans on so they show your ass-ass niggas/In the pool with the homie, trying to splash-ass niggas". Basically Hopsin is saying here follow your own lane as long as he agrees with it, which according to the music video for this song, the lane he wants us to follow is completely ignore all those years of technology advancing and start living in forests wearing nothing but plants. And the vocal effects on the chorus sounds horrendous. It seems to be multi-layered with one of the tracks being high-pitched, but both being drenched in auto tune and reverb leaving just an unpleasant sound to the ears. To sum it up, this is the worst song Hopsin has done.
So in the end, Pound Syndrome suffers from the same problem as Knock Madness: consistency. However now not only is quality between tracks inconsistent, the quality of the parts of the tracks themselves are inconsistent, leaving this album a broken mess and Hopsin's worst record to date.