I’m sure everybody within earshot has already read the news about Slaughterhouse – the crew of lyrical castaways – and Alabama’s quick-tongued Caucasoid rapper Yelawolf aligning with Shady/Interscope Records the other day. Some folks are lauding the Jimmy Iovine-reared mega-label for giving a well-deserved to a class of emcees long overdue for a chance at the major label spotlight, while some are predicting a changing of the guard in rap; a return to the days when abstract lyricism was placed ahead of elementary bleeps, rhymes and lies. The real question, however, is whether or not the house Curtis currently terrorizes can actually turn these five artists into legitimate (read: money making) machines.
The most glaring obstacle for Shady is how the label can somehow trick today’s Internets-addled, ADHD generation into paying enough attention to Crooked I, Joe Budden, Joell Ortiz, Royce Da 5’9” and Yelawolf to convince them to buy an album from a bunch of artists who are a lot closer to 40 than they are 20 (or, in rap layman’s terms, over the hill) which would, ideally, emphasize more on dense verbal exercises than simplistic call-and-response chants. Not necessarily the best idea financially in today’s rap contingent, especially since the so-called hip hop purist contingent who have longed for this type of music to once again take center stage also treat the very thought of spending money to actually buy an album as if it were the drunk, loud and ugly woman at a party.
It also doesn’t help that the members of Slaughterhouse were all at one point rapsters signed to major labels who, thanks to various unfortunate circumstances, were unable to take advantage of their opportunities and were thus spurned by the mainstream demographic, eventually finding solace in the neo-underground (read: Internets) world of rap where, despite gaining a huge following and an equally heavy buzz, their self-titled debut album only moving a paltry 31,000 units. But nevermind that.
Yelawolf fares a bit better, however, simply off the strength that, to this day, the public is still fascinated by the idea of a White rapper that can actually rap, despite it being over 20 years since Vanilla Ice was (allegedly) hung out a window by Suge Knight and over a decade since Eminem (who’s now, ironically, Yelawolf’s boss) broke the mold. Despite his rapping ability (and he can actually rap, mind you), Yela was wrongfully labeled as a countrified Slim Shady (or a skinny Bubba Sparxxx, take your pick) as soon as he stepped out of the womb and into rap’s public consciousness. Now that’s he’s actually allied himself with Marshall, those ass-backward comparisons will never stop.
So here we are again with Dr. Dre’s camp scooping up some highly talented artists all at the same time. While parts of me hopes they actually do something while they’re there, the cynic suggests that I’ll be waiting for a Slaughterhouse or Yelawolf album for about as long as I’d waited for albums from Rakim, Truth Hurts, Eve, Busta Rhymes, The Firm, Hittman, King T, Joell Ortiz (see what I did there?), Stat Quo or Raekwon.