One of the most peculiar aspects of non-mainstream music fans is their penchant to hate and avoid artist on major labels. This aversion is said to be because the music typically lacks “artistic” merit. One only needs to check the confounding negative criticism The Blueprint 3 received last year. I earnestly wonder if some of the detractors actually listened to that album, because it had some of the best beats and lyrics of ’09, regardless of Jay’s constant Black Bourgeois posturing. All in all, this blind “hate” can be unfortunate, because at times major label artist have serious talent and make a few jams that can be appreciated with or without the guilt.
The conglomerate of the Shady/Aftermath/G-Unit camp is infamous for this duality. Many talented emcees roam within those camps. Yet, they either have a terrible ear for beats, or simply compromise and give the public music centered on materialistic pursuits, blahzay club joints, and gimmicky street anthems. For these reasons many would pass up Obie Trice’s solid Special Reserve produced entirely by MoSS. It’s an album that predates Obie’s Shady days and lacks any desire for crossover success. Special Reserve is high-energy, unfiltered, braggadocio street music. From the jump, “Welcome” gets things crackin’ with a very clear statement: Obie is a fatherless, middle-class ninja, who dabbles in grimy shit and loves to rap. “Got Hungry” goes equally as hard as Obie details his rap aspirations, and brag swag abilities. The monstrous “You Have Been Slain” follows with its stark synths and dirty drill sergeant drums, while Obie vividly details the demise of a kid frontin’ hard in the streets. “Roughnecks” is another song worthy of recognition, with MoSS’s adrenaline pumping production complementing Obie’s relentless battle/funny-bone touching raps.
Yet, even with Obie’s lyrical ability, MoSS’s quality production, and only 11 songs deep, the sound can wear thin over a period of days and months. All the tough guy bravado, humorous but questionable misogyny, and overzealous violence can become mentally taxing. It really makes one hope many of these men really are just putting on a show, because the levels of crude ostentatious musical gestures just lacks sense. Even with that said, Special Reserve is a quality collection of songs one can bang in their whip or work out to. Ultimately, it’s up to the “heads” to give Obie & MoSS a chance and not take the material too seriously.