Slaughterhouse: Slaughterhouse (Album Review)

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The saying “God always has a plan” really rings true when it comes to the creation of the Slaughterhouse movement. Moments away from erupting into arguably the greatest lyrical contest since Nas and Jay-Z’s historic clash, Royce Da 5’9″ and Joe Budden spoke with each other via telephone and the resulting conversation lead to Royce joining Brooklynite Joell Ortiz, Long Beach’s Crooked I and Nino Bless on the Joe Buddenhelmed battle record “Slaughterhouse”. With such undeniable chemistry on the well-received record, the four emcees (sans Bless) constructed a lyrical syndicate, a self-described “bionic bomb threat” assembled to bring back the art of pure rhymes and lay waste to any competition that dare step in their paths.

The triumphant horns backing “Sound Off” signal a new age, the arrival of the Voltron Crew. Nickle Nine leads off, as each member introduces themselves while explaining the construction of the Slaughterhouse machine before momentum picks up and each emcee proceeds to bury the record with rapid-fire, double-time flows (Joell exhibiting a blistering flow, rivaling those of even the legendary group Bone Thugs-N-Harmorny and absolutely bodying StreetRunner’s epic backdrop). The machine continues its ascent on the heavily West Coast-influenced “Lyrical Murderers”, but it is Crooked I and Joell that emphatically butcher the track as Crooked states his claim as a lyrical all-time great (“Lyrical murderer, blame Rakim / I’m a sniper, shooting my way into ya lame Top 10 / Pistol at your head if I ain’t next to Eminem“) while Joell arguably steals the show with a dazzling musical motif of bars, courtesy of the self-proclaimed “instrumental hitman“.

The sparse piano keys on “Microphone” allow for one of the best showings of the four wordsmiths (as a group) as they pay their respects to what defines an emcee before dismantling the microphone, Budden taking the W with several quotables including a gem that perfectly sums up today’s hip hop scene (“Too many blueprints, not enough architects”). Fresh off his excellent Padded Room release, Joe Budden’s influence on the group (and the album) is evident midway through the album as listeners take a trip into his mind during a drug infested episode before proceeding into the synth-heavy “Cuckoo”. The machine combines to drops some of their sickest thoughts, but this is where Joe shines and easily steals the spotlight with one monster quotable after another: “I’m on fire, trying to make the devil proud of me / sleeping in gasoline, ‘case the nigga got it out for me / Hang my baby mother off a 30 foot balcony, then look over the body like “bitch shouldn’t have doubted me”.

The four wordsmiths return for the sequel to an originally leaked record titled “OnSlaught” and along with Fatman Scoop’s hypeman duties, the quartet manage to batter Emile’s energetic instrumental, leaving destruction in their wake once again in yet another heavyweight bout. Joe Budden takes a backseat and provides prayer (hook) duties for “Pray (It’s a Shame)”, giving his fellow groupmates the chance to assume one of Budden’s greatest assets: the opportunity to get personal. A message to hip hop, Mr. Porter provides the sample-ridden “Cut You Loose” as each lyricist vents about the current state of hip hop and the changes that have occurred within such a commercialized environment. The self-titled opus comes to an almost cliffhanger ending with the morose “Raindrops” as Crooked I channels and nearly sounds like the late Tupac Shakur before the collective concludes their project with one final lyrical assault on “Killaz“.

The album itself is a pretty versatile and well-rounded offering from hip hop’s newest regime (especially to have been recorded in just under a week), one that includes semi, but not mainstream-aimed records like “The One” and “Not Tonight”, all-out battle royales in “OnSlaught II” and “Microphone” while also presenting introspective cuts like “Pray (It’s A Shame)” and “Rain Drops”. Minor drawbacks include the skits that were included (excluding “In The Mind of Madness”) as they were virtually useless and the lack of a Joe Budden verse on “Pray (It’s a Shame”) was certainly disappointing. While each emcee certainly shined, Royce noticeably appear to be on cruise-control, noticeably lacking the fire that he has had on projects as of late (The Bar Exam 2, The Revival EP, freestyles and the like). The album itself, however, features few weak bars and is chockful of quotables as each emcee shines, leaving blood on both walls and speakers alike. Listen closely… and you’ll hear the screaming lambs, right before the slaughter commences….

4.5 (out of 5 spins)

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