November 7, 2008

My Gut Reaction: Shyne - Godfather Buried Alive (August 10, 2004)

After Puff Daddy screwed over Shyne in court, virtually guaranteeing that he would see the inside of a jail cell for no less than ten years while Diddy ran the city while receiving nothing more than a slap on the wrist, Shyne Po was conveniently dropped from Bad Boy Records, despite the fact that curiosity surrounding the court case (which featured Shyne allegedly protecting his boss and his boss's girlfriend Jennifer Lopez from a naysayer in the club by pulling out his heat) caused his debut disc, Shyne, to actually sell copies, a feat Puffy hadn't witnessed from one of his subordinates in quite a while.

Def Jam Records quietly signed the incarcerated rapper shortly thereafter, so quietly that I didn't even notice the motherfucker was part of The House That Russell Built until I looked on the back cover. Godfather Buried Alive, Shyne Po's second album, was released three years into his sentence, and while it managed to move some units, it failed to compete with his debut. However, that's more than likely due to the Shyne's absolute refusal to promote the disc, because of his status as an "inmate" and because he couldn't "leave".

I swear, the excuses rappers come up with to not go on tour.

Since I was absolutely enthralled during my first listen of Shyne many years ago, I opted against giving a fuck about this disc upon its release. I even went out of my way to avoid reading anything about Shyne Po, lest I become angry at the memory of the debut disc.

Until today, apparently.

1. BURIED ALIVE INTRO
I could use a lot of curse words to describe this rap album intro, but instead, I'll turn to one inoffensive term: "unnecessary".

2. QUASI O.G.
Bonus points for utilizing the term "quasi" in the title of a mediocre rap song. Which brings Shyne Po's current score to...one.

3. MORE OR LESS (FEAT FOXY BROWN)
This track was allegedly produced by Kanye West. If that's true, it's one of his laziest beats ever. Shyne deserves praise, however, for adopting a flow that no longer sounds like the Notorious B.I.G. with a head cold: he now sounds just like your average rapper that fails to stand out in the crowd (lineup?). What the fuck is with Foxy Brown's lame ass contribution on the hook? Besides the fact that she sounds like a dude, which can't do anything but hurt her image, she comes off as one of the most useless rappers in the history of the game, which may not be far off from the truth, but still.

4. BEHIND THE WALLS (EAST COAST GANGSTA MIX) (FEAT KURUPT & NATE DOGG)
As if you couldn't tell from Kurupt's intro, the original version of this song, sans Shyne, appeared on the soundtrack to the HBO series Oz. I seem to remember the original song sounding much more concise than this mess. It's obvious that Shyne was added as an afterthought, in a weak attempt by Def Jam to expand Shyne Po's audience. The end result is pretty blah.

5. SHYNE (FEAT MASHONDA)
I've never been much of a fan of Swizz Beats as a producer (he's derivative and obnoxious as shit, more so than most rappers and hip hop bloggers), but this track actually isn't that bad. I say that because Shyne sounds more animated on here than he ever has, so regardless of the fact that the ignorance that he spits makes the Southern rappers flooding the airwaves sound like fucking Robert Frost, this song is still deserving of a bit of praise.

6. FOR THE RECORD
The only song on Godfather Buried Alive that was actually recorded for the project (as everything else was older material), which should become obvious to you when you realize that he's spitting his lyrics over the phone while locked in the bing. For sheer ambition alone, this is worth a listen, due to the curiosity factor, and the fact that he's dissing Curtis Jackson, which just so happens to be one of my favorite pastimes. However, this shit clearly wouldn't help him get past a parole hearing.

7. MARTYR
I just heard this track, and I can't remember this shit even playing in my speakers, that's how much of an impression it leaves.

8. JIMMY CHOO (FEAT ASHANTI)
There is no reason this song needs to exist. I ask again: who had the bright idea that Shyne needed to appeal to the female audience? Hopefully Ashanti got paid a shitload to appear on this, since she has nothing else really going for her right now.

9. GODFATHER
Here's a switch: Shyne Po doesn't sound half bad on here, but the beat (from Yogi, late of the the three man crew, um, Cru) sounds like crap on a repetitive loop, detracting from the overall experience. It's not like looping a sample and stretching that shit to the full length of your instrumental has never been done before or anything, but it is especially annoying on here.

10. THE GANG (FEAT FOXY BROWN)
Seriously? This song sounds so much like Raekwon's "Verbal Intercourse" that I'm not entirely convinced that The Rza and Raekwon shouldn't sue. To add insult to injury, Shyne sounds boring on here, and Foxy Brown comes off as entirely undeserving of her record deal.

11. EDGE
Not entirely terrible, but nothing to write home about, either.

12. HERE WITH ME
Meh.

13. DIAMONDS AND MAC-10S
What passes for a "hook" is hollow and painful to hear, but the lyrics are mostly decent. The real star of this song, surprisingly, is Just Blaze's impressive beat, which sounds better than anything he's ever given to Shawn Carter.

THE LAST WORD: Godfather Buried Alive surprised me just a tiny bit, as Shyne actually doesn't sound like Biggie all that much. However, this album still fails to establish Shyne as anything except for a generic gangsta rapper. This isn't entirely his fault, though, as he couldn't have had any true creative input onto the project while behind bars. This ultimately comes off as a cash-in project by Shyne's new employers, Def Jam Records, in an effort to pimp out their employees by any means necessary. As a result, this album actually sounds worse than his debut, and because of that, I won't ever need to listen to this shit again, thanks.

-Max

RELATED POST:
Shyne - Shyne

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