Second Round's On Me
There is one thing that can't be disputed: Obie Trice's debut album Cheers was a damn good LP. But was it really his album? Or, more to the point, was Obie what made it so dope? That is the question here. He had Dr. Dre, Timbaland, DJ Muggs and Eminem lending him some excellent production and equally as impressive guest shots. The most notable (and perhaps detrimental), were a handful of blistering verses from his boss Eminem that were beyond show-stealing.
All of this took attention away from the fact that Obie Trice was a promising emcee. From his excellent pre-Shady material (classics like "Well Known Asshole" and "Broke, Jobs, Homeless"), Obie showed he had the skills, attitude and presence to be a bonafide star. It was no surprise that Obie was scooped up by fellow Motown superstar on his then blossoming label Shady Records.
Second Round's On Me couldn't be more appropriately titled, as this time around it's all Obie. One posse cut and a few crooners handling hooks aside, it's just Mr. Trice through 18 tracks. The LP kicks off with "Wake Up," a lyrical alarm clock to both the inner city and to the suburban kids unnecessarily trying to emulate a lifestyle they shouldn't want. He spits truth that he probably couldn't articulate as well a few years ago: "born and raised, mental slaves/and I don't see change befor'em reachin' the grave/all I see is my homies corpse decay/crying at his wake, can't recognize his face/face it, you not identifying with me/my identity distorts your visibility/see you can't see me, peep what he's achieving/you receive information from TV/I'm in the hood, I live it, you read about it." Lyrics are far from his only progression; Obie flaunts a new bounce flow on "The Ballad of Obie Trice" and "24's," and rides the ridiculous "Out of State" like a rodeo cowboy. Whether he is doing ig'nant (the banging "Kill Me A Mutha"), the picture painting ("Ghetto"), the heartfelt ("Mama"), or the introspective ("Obie's Story"), Obie makes it work in spades.
Bringing his A game, Obie made sure to pick beats that could make the grade as well. The ever-improved Emile laces something lovely for "Wanna Know." Well really, it's something grimy as the guitars just grind through the song backed by a great rock vocal sample for the hook. Obie may be unusually clumsy riding the beat, but Witt & Pep's horn-driven beat for "Cry Now" is flat out illy. Eminem later provides one of his best works ever for the club-made "Jamaican Girl" - they don't all sound the same now do they? Em provides another solid beat for the Detroit posse cut with Big Herc and Trick Trick and blows minds with his best verse in years.
These days everyone likes to think that every respectable artist has one "classic" in their catalogue. If that is the case, Second Round's On Me will likely go down as Obie's. The LP bangs from front to back with beats that are tailored to Obie, rather than a generic Aftermath sound that could have fit anyone on the label. And for his part, Obie has improved ten-fold as an emcee. Down this, and wait on round three.
Check out our review for Cheers right here