With Statik Selektah repping Brooklyn these days more than Lawrence, The Perceptionists seeming perfectly content with not making a follow up to 2005â€™s Black Dialogue, and it being over a year since the passing of Guru, Bostonâ€™s hip hop crown is up for grabs. And the heir apparent seems more than likely to be Ben Affleckâ€™s favorite white drug dealer typecast, George Carroll, better known as Slaine. But A World With No Skies 2.0, a made-over re-release heâ€™s described as giving birth to the same baby twice courtesy of the label run by Daddy X of 2006â€™s High Times â€œBand of the Yearâ€ Kottonmouth Kings, is nothing for the Beantown beast to boast about.
â€œBlack Horsesâ€ is a hook-less rant of an intro in which Slaine complains about how â€œhawdâ€ it is, concluding, â€œMy childhood was stolen from me, fuck it now Iâ€™m trapped in it.” â€œVoices of Apocalypseâ€, the first of several depress-fest jams declares, â€œItâ€™s why I stay high and I curse into mics / Cause death is the only thing certain in life.â€ And to top off those two downers from the leaked AWWNS, we get â€œ99 Bottlesâ€, an obnoxious frat-house beer pong sing-a-long that definitely didnâ€™t need to be included on 2.0.
The first new track on AWWNS 2.0 is â€œWhen I Shoot Youâ€, in which Slaine expresses his disdain for the classic double standard, â€œIf you shoot me, youâ€™re famous / If I shoot you, Iâ€™m brainless / So what am I to do?â€ On â€œCanâ€™t Go Homeâ€, Slaine takes a more mainstream preachy approachâ€”think Brother Ali meets Eminem on Relapse; while â€œYouâ€ spotlights classic Slaine over a dope beat doing what he does bestâ€”spit.
â€œJumpin’ Out The Windowâ€ is an apparent suicide ballad featuring a weak hook from Cyrus Deshield and an average verse courtesy of Boston hip hopâ€™s favorite drunk uncle, Edo G, delivering the same lukewarm tenacity as on this yearâ€™s A Face in the Crowd. â€œCrazyâ€, featuring B-Real and fellow Boston emcee Jaysaun, hooks you with a harpsichord-heavy beat and an above-average Slaine hook; however following a veteran verse from B-Real, Jaysaunâ€™s bars come off particularly amateurish, â€œIn my middle school locker I had a bottle of vodka / Took a shot at lunchtime, sprayed my breath with Binaca.â€ But that Renaissance Fair beat never loses you, through the good and the bad verses.
The memorable features on AWWNS 2.0 are found on â€œThe Boulevardâ€, a boom-bap banger in which Slaine comes out strong, outshining Blacastan, only to then be ousted by two of the yearâ€™s stronger guest verses, courtesy of New York heavyweights Sean Price and Ill Bill. The least memorable features follow on â€œBrokenâ€, when V-Nuckles and Cyrus Deshield display a laughably-emo attempt at a hook, â€œI just donâ€™t know why my eyes wonâ€™t cry / Guess that theyâ€™re broken / These lies mask and disguise / My past I canâ€™t hide, I guess that Iâ€™m broken.â€
The final serving of A World With No Skies 2.0 delves deeper into the more radio-friendly tracks (â€œWhere My Heart Isâ€ and â€œBorrowed Timeâ€), hitting the mark on â€œGhostsâ€, another look back on the Boston hooliganâ€™s upbringing over a DJ Lethal club banger. But the coup de grÃ¢ce of the album is â€œThe Last Songâ€ in which Slaine is graced with a growl-chorus from everyoneâ€™s favorite 90â€™s acoustic guitar-strumming white rapper (NO, NOT MARK McGRATH!)â€¦ Everlast! Expect to hear it in the Army National Guard music video youâ€™ll painfully have to sit through the next time you get to the movies early.
For a guy whose life is pretty damn good these days, Slaine raps a lot about death and suicide on such â€œupbeatâ€ titles as â€œWhen I Shoot Youâ€ and â€œJumpinâ€™ Out The Window.â€ This album at times is just a bummer; it doesnâ€™t seem to have that dirt-beneath-your-nails Boston hip hop grit. It could have helped if Boston emcees like Mr. Lif and Moe Pope were tearing it up alongside the rapper/actor, rather than weak and unenthused verses from Slaineâ€™s Special Teamz-mates, Edo G and Jaysaun. Ten months laterâ€¦ A World With No Skies 2.0 isnâ€™t much of a step up from its first incarnation, retaining seven songs from the original release, only a few worthy of second spins), but there definitely is enough on these 2.0 albums to establish that the Boston hip-hop crown is within his reach.
Voices Of Apolocalypse
The Boulevard feat Sean Price, Ill Bill & Blacastan