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by Pizzo
28 August, 2006@12:00 am
0 comments

    Obie Trice is a graduate of the late 90′s / early millennial independent hip-hop boom, debuting on wax as “The Well Known Asshole”. Fellow Detroit native, Eminem, noticed his talent after already validating Royce 5’9 and D12, making Obie the first new artist signed to Shady Records. His debut, Cheers, introduced the rest of the world to Obie to a lukewarm critical response, but nevertheless showed plenty of potential for the budding artist. Keeping the bar references on tap, Obie follows up with Second Rounds On Me. 

     Still fucking with Shady, Obie’s sophomore effort outshines his debut, as he has improved tremendously as a lyricist. Hanging around with Em for the past few years certainly has rubbed off on him, as it’s evident that Obie is challenging himself to rip every verse possible. For the most part, at least. The first half of his album finds Obie exercising his skill to the fullest extent, silencing the “haters like to yell it’s the whiteboy behind me”. Once the first skit ends, Obie is off and running, vividly describing his lifestyle on “Wake Up”, not sacrificing style or skill in the process. This leads directly into “Violent”, the second of these two gloomy, Eminem produced (and obviously influenced) tracks, as Obie gets his philosophical gangster on, flawlessly balancing street rap style with a backpack full of vocabulary groceries. While these two tracks sound pretty typical of the recent Shady Records sound, he throws a complete curve ball with “Wanna Know”, an ridiculoulsy raw, Emile produced banger, finding Obie tearing apart some bluesy rock guitars with breathless freestyles and never-ending rhyme schemes. He reverts back to thug on “Lay Down”, however his double-time flow is so on point here, even the most critical hip-hop fans will have to give it up. By the time the first single, “Snitch” re-enters your consciousness, you are open to Obie, and hanging off every word of his tale ? and that gimmicky Akon hook actually starts to sound pretty catchy.  And if you still aren’t sold, the follow-up single, “Cry Now”, further drives the point the home, as does the autobiographical “Ballad Of Obie Trice”, both of which feature Obie unleashing his talent, without holding back. 

     At this point, you are eight tracks deep into the LP, and things are sounding really consistent, and surprisingly raw - especially for a major label hip-hop record in today’s day and age. However, it almost feels like a bait and switch, because the second “side” of “Second Rounds On Me” is less appealing than the first (or maybe more appealing, depending on how you like it). The club-floor aimed “Jamaican Girl” is a bit too self-referencing to be a hit, as Em does his best Scott Storch impression on the beat, while Geffen recording duo Brick and Lace add the requisite - and lousy – R&B hook (just as they did on J5′s album). The west-coast bounce of  “All My Life” (made by Detroit newcomer Trell) also aims for the club, with a breezy hook from Nate Dogg, but again misses the mark. He tries the double time flow on for size twice again on both “Out of State” and “24′s”, but neither captures the rawness like the earlier “Lay Down”. Local crooner Trey Songz chimes in for a decent pair of introspective joints on “Ghetto” and “Mama”, respectively. However the token Eminem and 50 Cent cuts, “There They Go” and “Everywhere I Go” (yes, these are different songs), don’t break much new ground, sounding like lazy filler from the otherwise groundbreaking guest artists. 

     But you’ve got to hand it to Obie for shining on his own, this time around. Cheers drew its strengths from its collaborators (Eminem, Dr. Dre, 50 Cent, G-Unit), while this LP truly finds Obie carrying the weight on his own shoulders, hence the title. He still has trouble completely blurring the lines between underground and commercial hip-hop, and fans will be divided as to which half of the album the like better, he’s definitely improved tenfold, maturing into one of the best emcees signed to a major label today. Second Round’s on Obie, third time has got to be a charm.

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