Rating: 3 / 10
Reviewer: A to the L
Two for the price of one time over at Chez Wordsmith, with this “Rockstrumentals” release accompanying the impressive “Classic Material”, as some kind of rap-meets-rock coaster or something.
Seriously folks, those who know my steez, know I’m distinctly anti-rock guitar in Hiphop… most Hiphop artists (yes EVEN Run DMC) who have tried this trick have just irritated the shit clean out of me, so Wordsmith is on some bumpy ground before I even push play.
Well, this ain’t as horrible as I first thought – its certainly not on some PE and Anthrax, ‘Bring The Noise’ ish, or a MOP-esque head-melter, but at the same time its not THAT great – ESPECIALLY when held up against “Classic Material”. Rather than try to actually inflict ear damage, Wordsmith seems to have gone the Jay-Z / Linkin Park mashup route, where the guitars are used as a constructive element of the backing track, rather than an instrument of torture. Unfortunately though, that distortion voice effect is all over almost every track, and if it didn’t work for the Beasties, then surely by now someone should recognise that IT DOESN’T WORK IN HIPHOP TRACKS.
The other problem with using this effect so much is that it quickly renders every track as extremely similar to the last, even if the tempo or music is different on each one. ‘Rampage’? Oh that’s that quick track with the distorted vocals all over the hook. ‘Rocksteady’? Oh that’s that laidback cut with the distorted vocals ad-libbing every few bars. ‘The Conqueror’? Ah, that’s that other uptempo track with the distorted vocals. I think y’all see where I’m going with this.
At other points where the vocals are clear, the songs still suffer from poor production. ‘Firestorm’ is extremely Beastie-like, but has too many high frequency things going on in the mix making it almost painful to listen to. Repeat the exact same comments for ‘Runaway’.
High points are few and far between – ‘Backwoods Blues’ tosses the rock guitars to the back for a second, adopting a softer acoustic approach with pleasant results, while ‘Vicious’ exhibits more electronic qualities, which definitely provide relief sandwiched between ‘Firestorm’ and ‘Runaway’.
Overall though, its something that I would NEVER be interested in, and can’t honestly recommend. However, based on the fact that you can view this as a freebie that comes with “CM”, then its easier to pass off the negative views. If this were a standalone release though, it would be OVER. Wordsmith needs to stick to the vintage Hiphop sound he fought so hard to achieve on “CM” rather than messing with stuff that could tarnish his rep.