Swizz Beatz - Review

When you pick up a Swizz Beatz album, you know exactly what to expect. You expect beats that bump for days, some lyrical braggadocio and a sprinkling of ‘Showtime!’ chants. You don’t expect Swizz to be ‘lyrically Talib Kweli’. So now if you stay aboard this train of thought, you’ll enjoy his latest solo offering, One Man Band Man. Swizz will be the first to say he’s no rapper, preferring to be considered an entertainer instead. OMBM is definitely no rapper’s delight, but it is an entertaining listen.

The album has the all the trademark features you’d expect from a new school Hip Hop release. It has the requisite Lil’ Wayne guest feature, the ‘my bankroll is bigger than your bankroll’ tone and of course, the Brit-pop hook (Jay-Z & Coldplay, Common & Lily Allen, Bone Thugs & Phil Collins, etc.). But despite following this cookie-cutter formula, the album has its moments. Swizz is clearly a man on his grind and who can knock him for that? The singles from the album are ridiculously catchy and club-friendly. “It’s Me Snitches” along with the all-star remix featuring Weezy, R. Kelly and Jadakiss is certified heat. “Money in the Bank” is a warning shot to those ladies who see “Big Munny” coming. Strangely enough, the man known primarily for his production prowess didn’t entirely produce his own album. But he didn’t go and recruit Timbo, Pharrell or Kanye either. Rather, he chose to showcase up-and-coming producers Nottz, Needlz, Snags, Neo da Matrix and E. McCaine.

Fortunately, the album is free of any excess interludes. The only skit is a phone message from Big Snoop Dogg telling Swizz he loves “It’s Me Snitches” and offers his services. Thus, the big question is, why didn’t Swizz take Snoop up on this offer? Clearly, money ain’t a thing for Swizz, so why not put S-N-O-O-P on a track? Perhaps he wanted to keep the album rapper-free. In fact, outside of the big “It’s Me” remix, the only enlisted rapper is fellow Ruff Ryder Drag-On. Remember him? If not, you will when Swizz and Drag re-hash their 1999 hook from “Down Bottom” off the Ruff Ryders: Ryde or Die, Vol. 1 compilation album. The 2007 Needlz-produced version is aptly titled “Bust Ya Gunz”.

The album shines when Swizz doesn’t over-extend himself lyrically. “Top Down” flies slightly under the radar, but Swizz nicely rides the majestic sounding E-McCaine beat. Swizz’s raps are minimal, both literally and figuratively. At times, he wisely opts to let the beats talk for themselves. When the super producer tries to get too verbose, we have expectations of some jewels of wisdom but he often leaves us hanging. This is never more apparent than on the silky Chris Martin (Coldplay) track “Part of the Plan”. Swizz buids us up in his adlib, “I mean, Life is what you make it man” before bringing us crashing down, “What do you want me to do?” Huh? Thanks for the insight, Swizzy!

There are points where you can’t help but wish Swizz let some real emcees rap over the monstrous beats. Even if he didn’t want to go outside of his Full Surface Records team, he could’ve let Cassidy spit a couple of verses. One Man Band Man is the record you throw on in the ride on your way to the night spot. You can sing-along to the hooks and you won’t miss much if you happen to talk over the verses, making the album a perfect head-nodding soundtrack to get your party started right.

Rhyme Revolution Rating: * * * (1/2)

Download: Top Down, Money in the Bank, It’s Me Snitches (Remix)

Written by: Aadel Haleem