Fuckaintro. I’m definitely not super happy with this mixtape, but I’m not too mad at it either, because, after all, it’s just a mixtape. Not a classic mixtape, but one that managed to pleasantly surprise me many times. Most DJs take the something-for-everyone approach when choosing artists to feature on their mixtapes, so I know not to come in looking for consistency. Tony Touch’s picks mostly centered on the 90s-00s NYC scene, but I still question many of the choices. So the most that I can hope for is that at least a few songs will be fun to play for a little while, and Piece Maker 3 definitely meets that low bar.
Note: I started writing this as a straightforward review, but got I couldn’t stop delving deeper into criticism. I’m trying to find my voice as a critic, and my lack of motivation and output has shown me that straight-up reviews aren’t my favorite things to write. Besides, there are already a million places to get reviews the day an album comes out. So lets try something different!
O and this is a discussion of a story-driven album, so there are a lot of plot spoilers within.
This album caught me completely off-guard. I heard the single, The Sure Shots, a few weeks before album release, and wasnt impressed at all. I didn’t get it. What the hell is this song about? Who did this wack beat? Later, I finally heard the full album and still didn’t get it. I tried to skim through each song and ended up completely disappointed. It sounded like all the bad music that Wu-Tang has released: random bars slung into verses on throwaway beats.
Then I finally listened to the whole thing and was blown away. This isn’t the usual collection of disjointed songs that we call an album, it’s a short story told through verses. The fact that Ghost could pull this off blew me away, not because his storytelling is subpar, far from it, but because hip-hop concept albums that are this focused are very rare. Most lose steam or have ill-fitting songs that seem to be included just for the sake of appealing to radio. 12 Reasons To Die has none of that. Hence my confusion when I heard The Sure Shots. It sucks as a single, but works well in the context of the story being told.
In writing the review of the Demigodz’ great album Killmatic, I realized that it’s pretty rare for a rapper to have a group of his own that’s actually decent. I’m talking about groups that people came up with like Eminem’s D12 and groups they created like Snoop Dogg’s Tha Eastsidaz. Not supergroups where the roster is full of already-famous people. Let’s face it, being successful doesn’t speak to your ability to judge other people’s talents, at all. In fact, I’d venture to say that the average rapper is a horrible judge of talent in others. For evidence, see 90% of rap/sung collaborations. Or maybe these cats are just bad at nurturing the talent they find. Either way, hip-hop history is littered with bad groups fronted by good rappers.