Working with the respected likes of Dr. Dre and Eminem, Obie Trice is on his third studio album, Bottoms Up. The album has been under wraps for nearly six years, and it’s easy to see why; it’s loaded with 17 tracks that sound all too similar, uncreative, and old. Bare in mind his skilled lyricism, and solid production is still what propels the album forward and makes the album a worthwhile listen. Perhaps if the album was released four years earlier, it would be a much more impressive effort.
The first hint to what to expect from the album is evident in the cover. It’s dark, cliché, but still appealing. Ever since Nas popularized the baby on an album cover, it kind of ruined it for other artists to do the same. Just like the cover, the album is repetitive and overdone. Boasting at 17 tracks, it seems like Trice just threw together a conglomerate of unfinished and repetitive ideas that don’t necessarily take fruition. Although the album is the most light-hearted works of Trice, it is still ridden with dark tones that are evident in his lyrics, and haunting production. But overall the album is a satisfactory effort. It may not be someone’s next favorite album, but definitely has some tracks that are worth listening to.
The album first opens up with, “Intro,” a humble ode and thank you to all of Trice’s supporters like Shady Records, his label mates, and fans. However it is not Trice’s lyrics that are the attention grabber it is Dr.Dre’s production. Granted, it’s not Dre’s best work, but the piano chords are simple, repetitive, and addictive. And unfortunately, Trice’s lackluster flow doesn’t do it justice. Instead of using his aggressive, hard hitting rap lines, his delivery is far too simplistic.
Although Dr Dre sets the bar high in terms of production, once the album progresses it simmers down to a small spark. The repetitive production of syncopated hand claps, palpating bass drums, and minimal piano samples all mesh the songs together, leaving the album as a rushed production. It seems that after six long years, Trice just gathered a few tracks together as an effort to finally put something out. It leaves the listener sifting through remnants of tracks in search of the next best song. However, the album is predictable and the listener gets what they expect from any good hiphop artist; aggressive hooks marked with a consistent flow, and adequate production with cohesive ideas. Trice isn’t taking risks and it works for him.
However there are a few songs that do shine not only instrumentally, but also lyrically. Eminem’s haunting delivery (with his staple Slim Shady accent) and Satik Selektah’s reggae influenced beat, make “Richard” one of the best songs on the album. The boastful nature, but whimsical delivery in the lyrics, “Just call me Richard, cause I’m a dick,” make the song’s concept hilarious, and fun. The light nature of the album is a breath of fresh air from the all too serious and almost pretentious approach most rappers take in their lyricism.
Bottoms Up is all in all an adequate project. It’s not subpar but neither is it innovative. But to be honest, it probably shouldn’t be. Even if it boasts the production from acclaimed producers, the label switch from Shady Records and six-year time span could have served as the culprits for a lackluster record.