Following the release of their DJ Drama-hosted On the House mixtape, Shady Records’ fearsome foursome supergroup Slaughterhouse have released their major label debut, Welcome to: Our House, featuring singles “Hammer Dance,” “My Life” and “Throw It Away.” The 16-track Welcome to: Our House features guest appearances from B.o.B, Busta Rhymes, Cee-Lo Green, Eminem, Skylar Grey and Swizz Beatz....Read the full album review
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Before we dig into welcome to: OUR HOUSE, let’s take a minute to truly understand what we’re talking about when we talk about Slaughterhouse. Hip-hop’s really never seen anything like this particular four-man crew before. Sure, we’ve seen fleeting, always ill-fated “supergroups” formed by already established stars (cough The Firm cough), but never anything like Slaughterhouse. With some variation, Royce da 5’9”, Crooked I, Joe Budden and Joell Ortiz were all in shockingly similar places in their careers. For each of them, mainstream success had once seemed around the corner, but that avenue now appeared to be closed off. Hip-hop is a young man’s game, you’re only given so many chances, and with every day it looked increasingly less likely that Royce, Crooked, Joell or Joe’s face would be on MTV anytime soon.
But then….a mixtape track lead to the formation of a group, which lead to a self-titled album, which lead to a Shady Records/Interscope deal, which lead to welcome to: OUR HOUSE, the kind of major label funded album that was almost unthinkable for any individual member three years ago. With that in mind the mere fact this album exists has to be considered a success for Slaughterhouse, but hip-hop doesn’t give out feel-good points. OUR HOUSE arrives with a “hip-hop savior” aura around it, and by that measure it falls well short. This album won’t change hip-hop, and it certainly won’t change an industry loath to invest in lyrical hip-hop, but no one album, no matter how good, could carry the weight of expectations like that. Maybe I’m just feeling uncharacteristically optimistic today, but it’s still ultimately a good thing OUR HOUSE is in the world.
We might as well get the bad news out of the way first. Nothing could be more cliché than saying that Slaughterhouse “sold out” on this album, nothing more predictable than saying Interscope’s fingerprints are all over the crime scene…but that doesn’t mean it’s true. The primary reason fans were first sold on Slaughterhouse is that it sounded like they really, truly, didn’t give a f**k. They were going to make their music, their way, and a middle finger to the rest of the world. OUR HOUSE’s singles, on the other hand, sound like a group that very much gives a f*ck. There are multiple f**ks given. You don’t get Swizz Beatz on a track like Throw It Away without an eye on radio spins. You don’t get Cee-Lo on the hook of a record like My Life without hoping for a The Voice performance on prime time. You don’t have Alex da Kid and Skylar Grey do two tracks, Rescue Me and Our House, without hoping they’ll work the same chart magic they worked on Eminen’s Relapse. Speaking of which, you don’t have Em on the hook of a stripper anthem like Throw That without some hit aspirations. It’s not so much that these songs are bad, it’s that they sound like a focus-grouped version of Slaughterhouse, like they’re being squeezed into the same box that not too long ago wanted nothing to do with them.
With that said, come on, it’s not like welcome to: OUR HOUSE contains a posse cut with Flo-Rida, Tinie Tempah and Katy Perry. (An exec at Universal just wet himself.) At 16 tracks, 20 on the deluxe version, this album manages to work in more than a couple joints featuring some of the vicious rap hardcore fans were hoping for. Coffin is driven by one of Busta’s best hooks in a minute and some serious wack emcee casket burying, Flip a Bird appropriately flips a crazy sample into the album’s best hustling anthem, and Frat House is as narcotic and wild as the title suggests. Still, OUR HOUSE seems much more interested in lifting listeners up then tearing down the opposition. In fact, Joell Ortiz may just say it best on the put your lighters in the air arena anthem Park It Sideways: “I can’t say that / radio won’t play that.” It’s a joke, but it’s funny because it’s true.
Listen, there’s a reason Slaughterhouse put out On the House last week. If you want 12 minute songs, barrages of lyrical gunfire and sh*t you definitely can’t say on radio, you’ve got it. But that album/mixtape/whatever we’re calling projects like On the House these days was free. OUR HOUSE is Slaughterhouse’s bid to make some money, move some units and who knows, maybe even land on a Lipton Brisk commercial or two. Can you blame them? If anyone knows just how quickly this game will pass you by if you don’t seize every opportunity, it’s Joe, Joell, Royce and Crooked.
Listen to More: Slaughterhouse Written by Nathan S.
First DJ Booth Appearance:
"Slaughterhouse ft. Various Artists" (2008)
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