Ever since the emergence of Eminem, Hip Hop has been more receptive to Midwestern artists from areas other than Chicago. Those from the middle seem to display a combination of lyrical, attitude and clothing styles that are usually unique to one or another region of the country. For instance, Nelly raps with a Southern twang but Eminem, Obie Trice and others that are further towards the Eastern side of the middle, the dress reflects more Eastern shoreline than Midwestern cowboy. XV comes to us from Kansas City and seems to fall into the category of coastlessness. This seems to cause him problems at times, finding him sounding generic and anything but Complex.
The album begins with XV flexing his best Game-isms. He continuously drops Jay-Zs and refers to The Blueprint and basically Jay's entire catalog. The majority of the production sounds like knock off Kanye pre-College Dropout and The Blueprint tracks. The first two songs ("Feels Like The First Time," "You Got Me") sound like everyone else who brags about how they are the next emcee such and such and how hard their struggle was to get in the game. On "Give You Everything" we are subjected to another typical female song where "shorty is so fly and she want this and that and I gotta keep her laced up." And here, not only does the production mimic Kanye, but so does his delivery and enunciation. Once again, the name of the album is Complex and these are all issues that have been visited and revisited in this same fashion.
Next we move on to "Cruise," a cool track due to the production which fits the title perfectly. However, the content is filled with more name-dropping and no substance. "Dream Killers" is just a flat out blatant attempt to mimic any random summer-sounding track by Jay and Ye. XV even goes as far as saying "I feel like Hov on this one." This is one major aspect that causes the album to suffer. XV most definitely has potential but the majority of his music is a carbon copy of what has already been done. His talent takes a backseat to him seemingly trying to sound like others rather than being himself. On "King of The City," he flips the "Mambo Italiano" beat, and it really bangs. The bad thing about this song is it was one of the best attempts at something original but the concept doesn't match the content. The song is called "King of The City" but he says nothing about the city at all. No references to his neighborhood, high school or even the name of the town he's from. Ironically, on the very next song "Other Side of Town" he gives us a little insight into what life is like in Kansas. "Stare & Whisper" also contains a sample that we're familiar with. This track was used by Masta Ace on "H.O.O.D." As a matter of fact, it sounds like the exact same song outside of the drum track.
The album's best track has to be "Boy From Kansas." XV drops his guard and gets personal, which is something that Hip Hop needs more of because we all know everyone isn't hard all the time. XV has potential as an artist, but he will have to figure out who he is first. The lyrical content mirrors just about everyone else and the music as a whole does not represent one area or the other. We need something defining from a brand new artist and not just the run of the mill, everyday emcee. This was a decent effort for a break out album, but it is a far cry from complex.