What do you do when you’re an extremely talented artist who was on the verge of superstardom, but instead fell victim to music industry politics and settled for a small, loyal Internet-based audience? Start a supergroup with three other underdogs, of course.
Such is the story of Slaughterhouse, the grouping of Royce Da 5’9”, Joe Budden, Crooked I and Joell Ortiz, all of whom are highly regarded for their lyrical abilities and saw major label deals and partnerships crumble in the last few years. The foursome’s debut self-titled album, released independently, is a musical slap in the face to the industry that they feel abandoned them.
Although known independently for street-savvy raps, Slaughterhouse is surprisingly mainstream in its sound. With a chorus preaching “sex and drugs and dirty money,” the catchy first single The One is a satirical look at the perils of seeking A-list fame, replete with celebrity references and a beat inspired by Lenny Kravitz’s Fly Away.
Musically, Slaughterhouse is no slouch, either. The four MCs show that they are still worthy of their former industry support on songs like Not Tonight and Onslaught 2.
The only major misstep is Cuckoo, an over-the-top ode to violence and drugs over a sloppy synth backdrop, which is reminiscent of early shock-value Eminem. But with a balance of strong lyricism, some radio-friendly tracks and introspective songs like Pray and Rain Drops, Slaughterhouse serves as a perfect reintroduction to Royce, Joe, Crooked and Joell.