April 30, 2008

My Gut Reaction: Pittsburgh Slim - Tastemaker (December 4, 2007)

I came across Pittsburgh Slim's debut EP Tastemaker in the rap bins at a Borders bookstore. No, I don't really know anything about the guy (a cursory check online tells me that he has performed in both rock and rap groups over the years, and judging from his rap moniker, I assume he's from Jupiter), but what compelled me to track this disc down at my local library (apparently my library is great), other than the goofy cover, is the fact that Tastemaker was released on Def Jam Records. In fact, the album's executive producers include one Shawn Carter and a certain Ski Beatz, also known as Ski, also known as "the guy that I keep saying Jay-Z should be working with on a more regular basis", which would make Tastemaker the first collaboration between these two since the dawn of time, right?

Not so much. After listening to Tastemaker's seven tracks, it becomes blatantly obvious that Hova had absolutely nothing to do with this album, save for signing the guy to Def Jam in the first place (and I think we all know that his taste in rap is pretty suspect). Ski, on the other hand, dominates the production side of the album, save for the title track by Versatile, who has produced a song here and there for a bit (he's worked with the likes of Method Man and Onyx, but not nearly often enough to quit his day job at P.F. Chang's), and as a result, Tastemaker sounds like a soundtrack custom made for frat parties attended by douchebags that have too much money and are in the need of random sorority pussy to throw it at, given Pittsburgh Slim's subject matter and lame song executions.

Oh shit, I think I just gave my review away.

Versatile's production isn't bad at all, but the fact that these lyrics were delivered with a straight face in the booth mystifies me.

Sounds absolutely nothing like any Ski-produced song I've ever heard until this point, although that's more of a testament of Ski's talent than a recommendation of this horrid track.

A song about picking up spoiled brats at the bar? Can't say that happens often in our chosen genre. Usually the rappers have to get shot several times prior to getting any groupie love. Three songs in to Tastemaker, I have to at least admit that Pittsburgh Slim's one-track mind is impressively focused.

Supposedly, this song was a minor hit back in 2006-2007, but I had never heard of it until today. After the track was finished, I realized that I had actually heard it before, at the club, sandwiched between random songs by Peaches. (There was a really bad deejay that night.) Anyway, I now can clearly recall that I didn't think much of this track back then, but I was probably drunk as shit at the time; today, completely sober, I'm wishing that I was drunk as shit.

Oh, wow. Matthew Wilder's "Break My Stride" makes its second appearance on a rap song (the first time serving as inspiration of the hook for Puff Daddy's "Can't Nobody Hold Me Down"), with production that I can honestly say sounds nothing like the past three Ski contributions. I feel bad for Sonny Cheeba, who is obviously just doing Ski a solid, but find myself wondering why Camp Lo doesn't make more cameos for other artists, save for Pittsburgh Slim and Aesop Rock. Thankfully, this song is more like a freestyle, meaning it's really short, so I lived through it just fine.

Oh, now we're back to the songs that all sound the same. That's too bad.

7. TOY
I just listened to this song, and I can't remember a damn thing about it. In fact, to be honest, I didn't even hear it end; I sat in silence for three and a half minutes before I realized the CD was over.

THE LAST WORD: Well, never let it be said that Ski can't tailor his beats for different artists. However, with the exception of "Sunrays", every Ski contribution sounds exactly the same. I'm left wondering what the fuck Shawn Carter saw in this kid, since I found not one thing memorable regarding his rhyme prowess, but I'm now thinking that Jay's no longer being president of Def Jam makes so much more sense now. Listen to Tastemaker at your own risk, folks.



  1. Weird ... never heard of this guy before this review. I looked him up and apparently he got a *five album* deal with Def Jam. 0_o So, four more to go.

  2. Maybe Jay-Z thought that because his name 'pittsburgh slim' was similiar to his own rap moniker 'iceberg slim' then... Man, Jay-Z was a shit def jam president

  3. He certainly wasn't the best president for Def Jam, and this is coming from a guy that counts Shawn Carter as one of his favorite rappers. He was always better at marketing himself anyway, so his new LiveNation contract is ideal.

  4. Actually, Pittsburgh Slim is good friends with Camp Lo and he had one of the biggest viral songs/videos in recent memory. He also had a mixtape with hella downloads so Jay took a chance.

    It was his biggest gamble and failure since Lady Sovereign,