Swizz Beatz has released himself a who's who of an album here, featuring the likes of Jadakiss, Busta Rhymes, LL Cool J, Lil' Kim, Eve, Nas, Fat Joe, Ja Rule, Puff Daddy, Snoop Dog, and Metallica (yes, that Metallica). You may not have heard the name Swizz Beatz before, unless you're really big on the Ruff Ryders scene, but I'd be willing to bet this juggernaut of a record will put Swizz on the map.
I learned from reading Swizz's 8,000 page press release that Swizz has been mainly a producer in the recent past, helping to write and turning the knobs on songs by DMX, Limp Bizkit, and several of the aforementioned musicians. To be frankly honest, I really do prefer the songs on which Swizz is the primary rapper, as he has a great vocal tone.
"Ghetto Stories" is the first proper song on the album, and it features primarily Swizz (pronounced "swiss") rapping about samey rapper things, like being from the ghetto and stuff, but as I said, the guy's got a great vocal tone, so it makes for a really cool rap. The lyrics are laid down over a bunch of violins and Biggie Smalls-style beat, and the melody is really pretty, reminiscent of the Asian themes on a lot of early Wu Tang work. I could do without all of the talk about how sweet he is, but I guess that's standard ghetto rap subject matter, so what can I do?
I would really like to know how Busta Rhymes has a career. His music is so boring and predictable, what with his tough guy act and over enunciation on every other syllable. "Endalay" features Busta, and it's typical for his usual output. I almost fell asleep.
I must admit, though, that I'm really tired with most of the rap clichés, and they're in full force on several tracks here, including those with Mashonda. This guy raps about his "mind on his shipment", and how he owns Brooklyn, and how tough the life of a "gangsta" is. Look, "gangstas", N.W.A. perfected this genre a long time ago; please find something else to rap about. You're insulting your audiences singing about your boring old subject matter. On the other side of the token, the music was trippy and smooth on "Shyne", one of the aforementioned Mashonda songs.
Speaking of clichés, I'm tired of guys rapping about weed. Let's be honest: if weed was legal, you know that the number of tracks about it would greatly decrease. The song "Good Tymes", by Styles, is about how high he gets. The entire song talks about why he gets high and how high he gets; my question: does anyone really care? I don't, and you put me to sleep, too.
The tracks that were good were "Gone Delirious" with Lil' Kim, "Island Spice" sung by Eve and sounding a bit like "Big Pimpin'", and "We Did It Again", which features the strange mix of Ja Rule and Metallica. I guess it shouldn't be so strange, as Ja Rule's gruff voice mixed well with Metallica's crunchy guitars.
Overall, this is a pretty solid release. The majority of the tracks here are good head bouncers and have a really laid back feel. Swizz has a really special way of mixing a song together, and it seems that he can really make just about any turd (Mashonda, for example) shine like gold. I would have liked to have heard more with Swizz rapping, but maybe that'll have to wait until the next album. Big beats and lots of soul, this is one to pick up if you've got some extra cash.