22 January, 2011@8:18 pm
By now, hip-hop fans are very familiar with the man formerly known as Mad Skillz. Widely recognized for his knack for sick punchlines, Skillz has created a place for himself in hip-hop with his year end “Rap Up” series and has gained notoriety as a renowned ghostwriter. The Virginia native has done his bit for his home state, helping to put VA on the hip-hop map along with the Missy Elliotts and Timberlands of the world. With his 5th album The World Needs More Skillz,, the Richmond, VA emcee is back on the block.
If a book can be judged by it’s cover, then the outer packaging of The World Needs More Skillz, indeed tells the story of an emcee on his “grown man rap” tip. The LP departs from battle rhymes and finds Skillz focusing more on life tales and relationships. The album starts with two examples of this with the Jay-Z-ish “Celebrate Life” and the lead single “Regular Guy”.
The World Needs More Skillz is definitely more commercial as far production with a sound that is more piano chased with R&B than it is boom bap and samples. As Bilal and Raheem DeVaughn make appearances on “Wants and Needs” and “Call Me Crazy”, respectively, listeners will find a more progressive sound which is completely love/hate. Tracks such as “Superbad” and “Enjoying The View” follow from the same path of a more neo-soul backed Skillz.
The biggest criticism of The World Needs More Skillz lies in repetitive production. In addition to the previously mentioned tracks, “R.N.I.T.R”, “Good Money” and “Still Standing” all sound the same. While Skillz’s talent as an emcee is unquestioned, his skills don’t even help to differentiate these tracks from the others. In the rare cases when the album takes a left, it succeeds. Tracks such as “Going Up” and the standout title track “The World Needs More Skillz” are more of a tease and leave the listener wanting more. Sadly, these moments are few and far between. By far, the highlight of the LP is the beautiful dedication track with “Adam” which celebrates the life of the departed DJ AM.
With all of that said, “The World Needs More Skillz” is still a good album and good listen. While progression is a beautiful thing, there’s nothing wrong with going with the girl that you brought to the party. The world does need more Skillz, but the listeners need more Mad Skillz.
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