Working from home definitely has its benefits; no commute, no cubicle, and of course, no pants. Another perk that, sadly, rarely gets utilized is the ability to watch anything on TV in the afternoon. Normally, my TV is always off during “office” hours, but when the World Cup rolls around, it’s nice to be able to tune in. Of course, people with “real” jobs seem to tune in too. Take yesterday, it seemed like every single American played hooky from work to check out the U.S. vs. Belgium game. Obviously, it didn’t turn out how we wanted (unless your name is Dr. Evil), but it was still a blast, thanks mainly to USA keeper Tim Howard. I mean, the guy had 16 saves; a World Cup record! Those are some video game numbers right there, and suddenly all of America was idolizing someone they largely didn’t even know existed a month ago.
While most Americans are busy making Tim Howard memes, or wondering if Tim will be the one who makes soccer finally catch on in the U.S, Nathan and I were wondering one thing and one thing only….
Sometimes, these Rap Game comparisons come easy, and sometimes you have to work for them. This one was the latter. At first, I had no fucking clue. I get all my soccer knowledge from playing FIFA, so I really don’t know that much about Tim Howard. I do, however, know he is pretty good. 16 saves? Shit! Despite our best efforts, and our extensive experience comparing rappers to things, Nathan and I were drawing a blank. We knew the characteristics, but just couldn’t find the right rapper.
To be the Tim Howard of rap, you have to have a few important characteristics. First, you have to be be good; world class skills good. Second, you have to be underrated and under-appreciated. People can act like huge Tim Howard fans now, but how many will, or have ever, watched an Everton game? How many people even know who Howard plays for when he’s not on the national team? It’s just like the Olympics. Every time there’s that one athlete who takes the nation by storm, but then a month later, everyone forgets because nobody’s watching swimming or ice dancing outside of the Olympics. I have a feeling that come this fall, nobody talking about Tim Howard now will even bother to watch him play in England. Soccer just isn’t that popular here - there too many other sports to compete with - and as great as he is, Howard will probably not become a mainstream superstar no matter how much he deserves it. Finding the rap equivalent of that is tough, but I think we did it….Slaughterhouse is the Rap Game Tim Howard.
To my knowledge, this is the first ever multi-emcee rap game piece (it’s hard to compare a group to one person) but the group dynamic is essential to this comparison. Crooked, Royce, Joell, and Joe are all solid rappers, but honestly, with the exception of a few Joell cuts (and Budden's classic “Pump it Up”), I don’t ever listen to their work individually. Hearing that Crooked I has a new single doesn’t move the needle like a new Slaughterhoue effort; each rappers’ appeal increases when they are part of the group, like Tim Howard’s popularity increases when he is part of the U.S. Team. He’s just as good when he’s playing with Everton, and all of these emcees are just as dope individually, but people need that World Cup/Slaughterhouse hook to get interested. Outside of Slaughterhouse, have any of them had overwhelmingly successful solo careers? Joe might be the exception, but lately, I bet people know him more for “Love & Hip-Hop” than his actual hip-hop. Crooked and Royce have undoubtedly done dope shit individually, and Tim Howard probably makes Belgians sad on Everton, but they won’t get the attention they deserve unless they are part of that bigger collective, and for that reason Slaughterhouse is the Rap Game Tim Howard.
P.S. In case you were wondering, Howard is a Public Enemy fan; Check out his high school yearbook quote.
Second, the more I think about it, the more I like the Slaughterhouse = Tim Howard comparison. When something like the BET Cypher drops I think “these guys are ill, why aren’t I listening to more Crooked I?” and then, despite my best intentions, I just don’t end up listening to much more Crooked I, or Royce, or Joell. (Just like I watch the World Cup and then, despite my best intentions, never end up getting into the EPL.) Consistently great but maybe fated to only get occasional high praise, I never thought I’d be making a Slaughterhouse and international soccer comparison, but here we are.