For the life of me, I can’t understand what happened with this album. Well, lemme quit lying, I can guess, with confidence, what happened. Some dope underground emcees who were ill for illness’ sake decided to join a pop/alternative rocker/pseudo-rapper’s vanity label backed by a major label, then made an album influenced by major label expectations and their own desire to finally make some real fucking dough off rap, and predictably, the album is trash.
Styles of Beyond started as rappers’ rappers, i.e. the type of emcess that I usually love. Their first album, 2000 Fold, was full of low-key beats with slightly faster than normal bpms that they ALWAYS ripped to shreds. Then after their second album went nowhere sales-wise, they linked with Mike Shinoda and jumped all over his solo album, Fort Minor – The Rising Tied. Picture Ghostface on a Raekwon album, that many features. Of course their flows outshined his, but if you really wanna hear them (and Apathy) shit all over Mr. Shinoda, go find the Fort Minor – We Major mixtape.
So they were signed to Shinoda’s Machine Shop label, backed by Warner Brothers. For another example of the Warner Brothers stink on a good indie artist, check Murs’ Murs For President album. Anyway SoBs Machine Shop debut apparently got shelved from 2007 to now. Somehow it must not have been poppin enough for the label, or SoB decided it was too pop. I assume it wasn’t pop enough, since SoB believed in the project enough to fight to get the album masters so they could release it themselves.
You might guess that I disagree with that course of action. And you’d be damn right. But the album’s getting glowing reviews from asshats that I don’t respect so who cares what I think?? But then they have the nerve to praise the songs that I hate the most. Case in point, Kevin Nottingham cites The Pirate Song as the highlight of the album, even quoting the mind-melting hook:
Just how drunk can I get? I’m Irish/
A pirate minus the black boots and patch over my eyelid/
Over-the-top violence, always touching my privates/
So finish up your Guinness, there’s sober kids in Ireland/
Imagine how bad the flows that follow that hook would be, well the reality is that nightmare times 10. Aside from several more songs like that, the guys show some decent to pretty good rhyming throughout the 16 tracks. But no one’s rhyming rises to great. And why should they on such weak beats that are too geared towards what’s hot now instead of that semi-original dark sound that they had on 2000 Fold. It seems that SoB lost their sound.
I also find it weird that they’re continuing to slide into more and more gun-talk as time passes. I can dig the ill-emcee crime-talk schtick, it’s just another thing that shows me their conscious decision to style-switch.
To conclude, the album is mostly wack. Here’s one of the decent joints tho: