Slaine vs. Slaine by Micheal Mussolini
I first met Slaine at a show in 2006, which we performed at, as well as Blacastan and The Problemaddicts. Up until that point, I had heard of his name, as I was a fan of Ill Bill and La Coka Nostra but had not heard any material from the man. After the show I promptly found “The White Man is the Devil” Vol. 1 and 2 (as those was the only releases he had out at the time) and instantly was more impressed with Slaine than I had been with any artist in a long time. Fast forward to today, and Slaine has blown thru the roof, with roles in 2 huge, Ben Affleck directed, Boston-based movies, a couple more mixtapes and a ravenous fanbase world wide. And that was the problem. It’s my understanding that Slaine and his label, Suburban Noize, were planning to drop “A World With No Skies” following the release of the “The Town”, a blockbuster flick, Mr. Carroll had a less than small part in. Now typically independent artists and labels don’t worry about sample clearance in the same fashion as cats on Def Jam, but due to his major status change, the label wasn’t comfortable putting out the project as recorded. Instead they shelved the original album and Slaine put out a mixtape “The Devil Never Dies” (solid but not spectatcular) on the planned release date. All with the promise that “A World With No Skies” would be reworked with less samples and drop fresh in 2011. I’m sure people were disappointed, but due to the beautiful invention we call the internet and someone that had an original copy, “A World With No Skies” became available bootleg-style with one google click. Seeing that it’s been about a month since the retail version, dubbed “A World With No Skies 2.0″ has hit the shelves, we thought it would be dope to compare the two pieces of music- the original artist vision vs. the reworked retail version and see who comes out on top. Yeah boy!
“A WORLD WITH NO SKIES” (ORIGINAL VERSION)
1. A WORLD WITH NO SKIES – Great way to start the album, picking right up where WHITE MAN IS A DEVIL VOL. 2. left off. Produced by Lu Balz, the beat is fast, bouncy,and dramatic allowing Slaine’s focused flow to do damage. The hook is dope too and I have seen him rock this live and it crushes shit. The beat change for the 3rd verse is cool and shows that Slaine and his respective producers are going all in on here. HOWEVER, THIS IS ONE OF SEVERAL BANGERS NOT FOUND ON “2.0” AND I GOTTA SAY THE PROJECT SUFFERS FOR IT.
2. VOICES OF APOCALYPSE – I think he got the title from Vinnie Paz, haha, but nah this joint is hard too. I recall HIGH & MIGHTY using this same sample on there debut album, but it sounds like it was replayed here. DJ LETHAL did the track, and its dope no doubt, but does sound a little bit like the prior track. Lyrics are typical Slaine- drugs, money, sex, but i especially like the hook. Oh the bassline drop at the end is nice too.
3. 99 BOTTLES – This joint took a little while to grow on me, as it was the first single from either project, and I was halfway expecting some real hard body shit. This is another fast, bouncy beat, produced by DMATIC, and Slaine beats up all over this shit. His flow is incredibly agile on here, with plenty internal and multi-syllabic rhymes. The hook is simple enough, but does the job, and def plays up the HOUSE OF PAIN anthem vibe, which is never bad. Slaine sounds like my man EXCETERA from THE CAMP on here, another Boston group. Anyway…
4. WHEN I SHOOT YOU – Not my favorite joint. Beat is okay, some piano dribbles and stiff drums, but the producer Lu Balz sounds like EMINEM on production here. I read in an interview that Slaine picked Lu Balz to do so much production (did like 75% of “2.0” and a bunch on here) because he was able to create dark, dramatic instrumentals without sampling. It’s good and bad, the instruments def sound crispy but I think it lacks the rugged factor. Slaine is in storyteller mode on here, kicking a tale about getting robbed leaving a party, which is cool but forgettable.
5. BLACK HORSES – Not feeling this at all. I tried to like it too, but the music sounds too familiar and the marching drums force Slaine to take on an almost double time flow, which is just awkward. The content is about dark dreams and nightmares but doesn’t make much sense and some of the shit about his mom getting raped, just turned me off. Shoulda left this off the retail version, in my humble opinon
6. NIGHT AFTER NIGHT – Here we fucking go. STATIK SELEKTAH give Slaine some hard boom-bap shit to recount his career over. The sample is so dope, and Statik’s trademark sound was direly needed at this point. The cuts on the chorus interwoven with the vocal sample is hot as hell. This is a god damn banger, but was ultimately taken off “2.0”, due no doubt to the crazy samples. A SHAME!
7. CRILLIONAIRES – This song is cool but was already heard a bunch as it was on myspace for a while (back when that was poppin!). I guess Q-UNIQUE did the beat and has the first verse, with ILL BILL and SLAINE coming with verse 2 and 3 and both doing what they do. Slaine wins on here lyrically, but when the beat drops and goes into that same sample used on “NOWHERE TO RUN” by THE GRAVEDIGGAZ, that’s the illest part. I gotta say this: WHY DOES ILL BILL’S VOCALS ALWAYS SOUND LIKE HOT DOG SHIT??? They never used to, but after the La Coka album, A LOT (not all) of his verses sound terribly recorded, turning me off to the entire KILL DEVIL HILLS album. Does no one else notice that??? This was taken off “2.0” and rightfully so, as it would have been played out by that point.
8. THE AMERICAN WAY – Another STATIK SELEKTAH banger!!! The guitar sample is crazy, and Slaine talks about his hopes, dreams, and why he is not a role model. Simple but ill. I like when he does the everyman shit like this, and I’m sure his hoardes of fans do too. Of course this joint never had a shot on “2.0”…
9. LANDSCAPES – Ok, this track is fucking ridiculous. This is why I’m a Slaine fan, and a VINNIE PAZ and REEF THE LOST CAUZE fan for that matter. All 3 come super correct, with punchlines and talking about coming up in the game. It’s too hard to call on here, but Slaine’s ending line “The Dimock to 6 figures, right here in America” pretty much sums up the entire album! Credited to Hirolla (on Wikipedia) as producer, this was the ultimate sample clearance fatality.
10. MISTAKEN IDENTITY – STATIK SELEKTAH gives Slaine some room to tell a great story about…you guessed it…mistaken identity. Good story song, but it was another track that had already circulated pretty heavy by the time I heard it on here. Good call pinch-hitting for it on “2.0”, but its still dope.
11. BROKEN – Didn’t pay much attention to this at first. Matty Trump, who produced the lion’s share of Slaine’s early material, did the beat on here, and its melodic and head nodding. V-Nuxx from NBS kinda gets Slaine on here, as they both talk about being broken emotionally. “I thought he’d be the first black man on the moon”, from Nuxx verse is the line that gets stuck in my head. Good song, if not incredible. Don’t hear too much sampling on here, most likely the reason it stays on “2.0”. By the way, I like the way they each go back for 8 bars each on the 3rd verse. That HEAVY METAL KINGS syndrome of two rappers, two 16’s and that’s it, gotta go.
12. TILL THE DAY THAT WE DIE – The homie, CHUM THE SKRILLA GORILLA, laces Slaine with some straight rugged shit for him to paint pictures of his family life over. Fuck “All I Need”, I could play this shit at my wedding. Having a troubled relationship and new son myself, I especially enjoy when Slaine touches on subjects like this. Cuts on the outro are ill too. I cried tears of leak when this got chopped off “2.0”
13. CRAZY – I do not care for this song. It sounds like some almost west-coast shit, but the harpsichord or whatever annoys me. Hard to believe DC THE MIDI ALIEN produced this, but lyrically Slaine, JAYSAUN and B-REAL from CYPRESS HILL all do their thing, just wish it was over a different beat. Of course this one would stay on the retail album lol.
14. I AIN’T DONE – Back to business!! This song circulated in a leaked form before either version of the album dropped, and I liked it since then. Lu Balz is back on the boards here, and this sounds like “Black Horses”‘s hotter, smarter and bigger breasted sister. Slaine is as paranoid, miserable and drugged out as ever on here, and its great!
15. INSOMNIA – This joint is good, but I find myself skipping past it, as the next next two songs are my favorite from the original record. By now, you either love Slaine or hate him lyrically, so there is no real suprises, although he sounds especially focused on this song. Lu Balz again on this one, and it hits hard although the chorus chants are a bit much. I think this ended up on the bonus disk for “2.0”
16. BODY OF CHRIST – To me, this is the crown jewel of the album, and should have remained on the retail version, samples or not. This is a dramatic, very hip-hop look at Slaine’s religious beliefs. SICKNATURE tends to have the same sounding beats, like the underground’s LEX LUGER (BMF, MC HAMMER, GET it!) but the thing is that the template he uses is BANGING to begin with, so it’s all good. “They nailed Jesus up to 2 pieces of wood”, this is the Slaine that won me over in ’06.
17. GHOSTS – This song and the one before it, go together almost like twins attached at the scalp. But they each can live on there own, as this song was forced to do on “2.0”. Slaine once again recounts his younger life, but this time is very visual and the imagry is fantasic. The lines about his grandma and Jeru’s “Come Clean” are my favorite shit on here.The super-consistent DJ LETHAL helmed this instrumental and much like other Slaine songs he produced, the chemistry is evident.
18. THE LAST SONG – I dont really like this song and I dont know why. I think its the faux-rock vibe. For me, I usually stop the album at #17, but listening to it now, it’s really not “wack” just not my cup of tea. Slaine talks about dying. EVERLAST croons the hook. Ok.
OVERALL RATING: CRACK (4 outta 5)
I gotta remind yall that this is just my opinion. I’m an artist AND a fan, and a music lover. I fucking love hip-hop. When i write these reviews i take the artist hat off, and just let it fly…With that said, I really really enjoy this album. It’s solid as fuck, great production (if a bit redundant), great lyricism, tons of imagery and soul searching, demon cleansing and dream chasing. I fucks with that. Is it better than “2.0”??? You gotta read the rest of the review and see…
A WORLD WITH NO SKIES 2.0
1. BLACK HORSES – Again? Really? First song? Hmmm
2. VOICES OF APOCALYPSE – Sounds slightly reworked, added Slaine talking to himself, might have re-spit some bars and i think the main instrument is altered a bit. Good choice to include.
3. 99 BOTTLES – Same shit, had to include the single
4. WHEN I SHOOT YOU – Yeah, would have prefered LANDSCAPES, BODY OF CHRIST or any of the STATIK SELEKTAH tracks. Not wack tho.
5. ZOMBIE – I hate this. Typically, I like rock music and hip-hop music, BUT NOT TOGETHER AT ALL. Hook is super corny. I’m POSITIVE there is a bunch of kids that start off every day with this song, but I’M NOT ONE OF THEM.
6. CANT GO HOME – DJ Waxworks gets the hip-hop back on the record, with some very dope drums and piano keys. Slaine talks about his rising status, and how he feels more alone than anything. Hook is dope, I like when Slaine harmonizes shit. This song is fire.
7. YOU – The first of the new batch of songs I heard after the bootleg. This song is a fuck-YOU to haters and critics. Producer SILVAMORE gives Slaine plenty room to talk shit, and he does just that. Lyrics are on point here, and any song that calls leaky leak: “crazy eddie” is ok in my book. Not incredible, but very dope.
8. JUMPING OUT THE WINDOW – CYRUS DESHIELD starts the track off with some soulful vocals, which drops into Slaine cursing his fame. EDO G comes in for the 3rd verse and the song is all the better for it. Song is good, another Lu Balz beat, but I GOTTA comment that this is the first of a few similar tracks here on “2.0” where Slaine gets mildly introspective, someone sings on the hook, and the beat tries to sound hard, melodic and melencholy at the sime time. Sounds like some ALEX DA KID produced shit.
9. CRAZY – Still no like.
10. I AIN’T DONE – Still dope as shit.
11. THE BOULEVARD – Hands down, the illest of all the new songs. Lu Balz and SILVAMORE get some violin stabs, a breakbeat, and thumping drums to score this posse cut with Slaine, THE FUCKING HOMIE BLACASTAN (proud of you my dude), SEAN PRICE, and ILL BILL. I can’t call it, Blac and Sean P come very hard, no homillz. It’s not “Landscapes” but its crazy still.
12. BROKEN – Still ill
13. GHOSTS – Misses “Body of Christ” lol.
14. WHERE MY HEART IS – Exhibit A of what I said on track 8. Slaine reworks the family song, with good results. Lu Balz and Silvamore connect again on the beat, a nice little team, but its fairly familiar. Not feeling the hook, sorry. I like singing, I LOVE singing, I just dont like THIS singing. Song overall makes up for it.
15. BORROWED TIME – Another incredibly dope artist, Sicarii, had a song with the same title. That not with standing, this song is good, if not great. Slaine talks about his drug use over some reverse effect drums for the verse, then the hook drops and the drums thump with some DOPE singing. CHECKMARK of the SKITZOFRENIKS suprised me on here, getting deep with Slaine. I aint heard from dude in mad long, but most SKITZ material was light hearted punchlines. This could be a new lane for homie. Lu Balz got another good song under his production belt, but the beat on the hook gets a little overly dramatic towards the end. Still I gotta applaud these dudes for putting they all into it. Chill with the chants tho…for real…haha.
16. THE LAST SONG – Is it really now?? Still aiight, “2.0” had a FYE bonus disc with 5 MORE songs, which I’m not gonna review because I think I’ve had enough Slaine for one day. That’s not saying I dont walk away impressed.
OVERALL RATING – DOPE (3 outta 5)
THE REAL DEAL – Ok, I think it’s pretty obvious that I prefer the original version over “2.0”. Lyrically, both projects are pretty much neck and neck, but musically a cat like me enjoys dusty, rugged, sample and keyboard based head nod shit over ALL keyboard, similar sounding tracks. Everyone involved with both albums is very talented and got a good career ahead of them, but i mean tastes are tastes. And I got mine. Slaine is STILL the man, one of Massachusetts’ and the rap game’s most dangerous mc’s, flutently discussing the streets, the drug game, women, addiction, family all on one (or 2) records. His ability to invite the listener into his life is uncanny and genuine. However, I wish they were able to find a way to include some of the stronger bootleg tracks on the retail version, and filter out some of the others. Can’t wait to see where he will go from here…
oh and my ratings is as follows:
1 outta 5 – GARBAGE
2 outta 5 – AIIGHT
3 outta 5 – DOPE
4 outta 5 – CRACK
5 outta 5 – CLASSIC
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