In a perfect world rappers would be paid based on their rhyming skills and not the label’s marketing skills. Unfortunately we do not live in an ideal world and rappers like O.C. have yet to achieve the financial success they deserve. By refusing to conform to the candy rap standards, O.C. may never experience the proverbial champagne, caviar, and bubble baths, but fortunately for rap fans those things do not appear to impress him. Its been over a decade since his classic debut, Word Life, and O.C.remains as raw as ever on his latest album, Smoke and Mirrors, crafting an album that does not rely on gimmicks and frills to sound good.
The album opens with “You Made Me” with its clever sampling and the banging “Martyr”, which set the tone with O.C. spitting lines like “This ain’t something to dance to / This is something to blow your mind and discuss with your crew”. Mike Loe’s boom bap drums and gritty sound blend nicely with O.C.’s relentless flow giving the album remarkable consistency. This, represents both a gift and a curse, because some of the songs begin to sound a little too similar.
However its a minor flaw as O.C. maintains his frantic pace through out the album. Tracks like “Change Ya’ All” and “Distortion” show an intensity that would make M.O.P. proud. On “Going Nowhere” O.C. ask fans the seemingly rhetorical question, “What you want truth or trash or that bubble gum shit? / Silicone or saline or sucking on some real tits?”. Undeniably, O.C. does not really care if the whole world chooses the “bubble gum shit”, because he is not going to change. In fact he is less polite when discussing critics like on “What I Need” as he says, “To be perfectly frank / Don’t give a fuck about rap columns or ratings / Determining my rank”. While it may belittle the purpose of writing this review, it is still refreshing to see an artist worry more about his craft than his critics.
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