Swizz Beatz - One Man Band Man

Posted August 20, 2007
Tags: Swizz Beatz,

For the record I do more than just write fascinating album reviews, I’m also working on a new...

One Man Band Man Album Review

For the record I do more than just write fascinating album reviews, I’m also working on a new book. Before it knocks Harry Potter out the #1 spot on the book charts, I’ve decided to give loyal readers a quick preview of my future bestseller, “Give Me the Damn Mic; why hip-hop producers feel the need to rap.” Here’s a quick outline: hip-hop has become increasingly focused on hot beats instead of dope lyrics (This Is Why I’m Hot). It didn’t take long before producers realized they were the real hit makers (Timbaland). So what if they’re not a great rapper? A fourth-grader could write the lyrics to a hit single (Krispy). A producer grabs the mic, lays something down, collects all the credit and royalties, and if they're a legitimately talented MC they might even take home a Grammy (Kanye). Get the hell away from the mic, the age of the super-producer is here.

The third chapter of my book will be devoted entirely to the only man in hip-hop to share his name with a country that makes delicious chocolate, Swizz Beatz, and his debut album One Man Band Man. Swizzy has compiled one of the most impressive catalogs in hip-hop and after more than decade in the game has decided to take matters into his own hands. On One Man Band Man Swizz has the courage to do the bulk of the vocal work himself instead of hiding behind an avalanche of guest features, but he also did only a third of the production, meaning by my count the album is more like a 14 man band. (Somebody needed to point that out.)

Not only did Swizz create the summer anthem of ‘07, but he created the line that will stay with him the rest of his life, and maybe after. It’s not hard to picture him rolling into hip-hop heaven and announcing to the chorus of assembled angels, “It’s Me Bi**ches!!!” The beat is prototypical Swizz, a jittery assembly of looped vocal samples and cascading instrumentals that somehow combine to form an addictively catchy beat. Swizz consistently makes innovative music that remains immediately accessible, the goal of any serious producer. Lyrically the man doesn’t do much, the verses are essentially extended choruses on repeat, but at least he’s not copying anyone else’s flow. The lyrical content is low, his style is high, add them together and you get an average rapper. The vocals problem however is solved by bringing in the schizophrenic Lil' Wayne, the unconquerable R. Kelly, and Jadakiss for one of the most enjoyable remixes in history.

None of the other Swizz produced records have the same insatiable appeal as It’s Me, but it’s hard to improve on near perfection. He breaks boundaries and turns in his best MC performance on the intimate Part of the Plan, featuring Chris Martin from the hyper-emotional band Coldplay. Swizz lays down an impressively honest and tightly delivered flow about his impoverished childhood. Though there is the line, “I wish I could fly away on a unicorn.” A unicorn? Seriously? MC Rule #417; avoid having listeners picture you riding a unicorn. My obsessive attention to detail aside, Part of the Plan serves notice his beats aren’t the only things worth listening to, his words can hit as well. Unfortunately, he doesn’t put the same kind of effort into Take A Picture, a relentlessly gimmicky track that would have been better off in the hands of Beyonce. Swizz hasn’t quite figured out how to make party records with substance, or deep records that still bang, but we should cut the man a break. It is (technically) his debut album after all.

Swizz enlists some serious up-and-coming production talent to fill out the rest of the album: Nottz swaggers hard with Big Money, Needlz combines punching percussion and orchestra strings on Bust Ya Gunz, and Young World Music strips down Money in the Bank for a certified hit. The production styles of these recruits are so close to Swizz’s own, listeners will undoubtedly assume he produced them. Is Swizz a dope MC? No, but he’s as good as half the rappers on the radio. Why should he share the mic and the money? I say more power to him. Stay tuned for the next chapter of my book, “Kanye West; incredible hip-hop talent or annoying crybaby?” I promise it’ll be a hell of a read.

DJBooth Rating - 3.5 Spins

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Posted August 20, 2007
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