Obie Trice - real name no gimmicks. The well-known asshole. He keeps his heat right by the nuts. Moby? He could get stomped by Obie. Him big lips, you no teeth, it just wouldn’t look right. By now you’ve heard every Obie Trice quote or catch phrase, which pretty much means Shady Records has done a great job of getting an artist with seemingly little street buzz into the homes of America, with his most brilliant placement at the intro to Eminem’s “Without Me”. But as the third act to arise from Em’s own Shady Records imprint, is he the next underground street sensation, or just a lot of hype?
Obie Trice hasn’t failed at defining himself with his debut, Cheers, and with his own style he doesn’t come off sounding like another rapper trying to catch Em’s fanbase by spitting the same shock value rhymes that we’ve all heard too many times before. However as a signee to Shady Records, with Em’s production behind him, at times, Obie does begin to sound like an understudy, especially on similar themed tracks like “Got Some Teeth”, which packs the same bouncy style that “Without Me” did, or “Don’t Come Down”, where Obie gives his own version of “Cleaning Out My Closet”. All respect due, both are dope tracks, and we should almost have come to expect this, but at the same time this keeps Obie from developing his own sound.
But while Obie is still a rookie, people are still tuning into the Eminem show, and it’s evident that this album’s strongest moments lie in the collaborations. On “Lady” and “Hands On You”, Em and Obie deliver two sides to relationships, however Em’s flow is so ridiculous here and any other moment on this album, that it drowns everything (and everyone else out). Case in point is the previously released “We All Die One Day”, which for some reason is heavy on the Soul Assassins shout outs (whoops, wrong album?!?), but Em gets retarded in the last verse: “We are not killers / my vato will have your ass shot though / drag through the barrio / and fucked like Kim Osario’s / lil’ hoe ass / go ask B-Real / we burn Source covers like fuckin’ Cypress Hill / did in the 90′s / when you were in diapers still / Shady Records / better believe the hype is real!!”. Meanwhile, further beefs are brewed on “Shit Hits The Fan”, propelled by an infectious Dr. Dre track where the good Doc lets loose on Ja Rule, and Obie follows behind him.
But while this album’s greatest moments lie in the collaborations, Obie still can hold his own, as the aforementioned “Don’t Come Down” and “Got Some Teeth” show. While on “Average Man” he tends to spit half-convincing gun-clap talk like an extra member of the G Unit, he’s at his best on tracks like “The Set Up” or “Spread Yo Shit”, where he’s railing off shit-talk freestyle rhymes over simpler, minimalist production.
All in all, as an emcee, Obie Trice is more defined than anyone in D12 (minus Em), but is cursed with their same dilemma, living in the shadow of one of the greatest emcees of all time. It’s cool that he has the backing of Eminem, Dr. Dre, Timbaland, and G-Unit, which makes this a wonderfully produced album with lots of memorable moments; however its strongest moments aren’t his own. A worthy debut, but it may take another two or three solid LP’s before Obie positions himself as better than the average man.
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