I understand hip-hop is not all about empowerment, and there’s a dark side within the culture that must be addressed to maintain balance. Hell, some of the recordings we hold so dear were nothing more than cocaine-filled musings about drug connects, petty crime, and misogyny. But with Hawaiian Snow, the collaborative album between G-Unit’s Tony Yayo and Detroit rapper Tony Brown, there is very little to hang on to as the artists spend roughly 45 minutes rhyming only about their deep affinities for weed, sex and money. For the aforementioned reasons, Yayo and Brown should not be condemned for their chosen topics. However, artists who limit their subjects should at least challenge listeners by switching their lyrical cadences before slathering them over such simplistic, redundant production.
With that said, I do respect the straightforward honesty of Hawaiian Show, as evidenced by songs like “Roll Up” and “My Life’s The S**t”, whose charm resides within their mid-tempo, bounce-heavy synths and occasional punchlines. Metaphors aside, the two rappers also know how to simplify things. “Roll up, roll up, roll the fuck up/roll up, roll up, yeah, roll up, roll up,” goes the hook on the album’s opening song. “Nothing To Lose”, a tale about trusting oneself and ascending to the top, is by far the album’s best song, as its poignant drums and sporadic synthesizer briefly transition Hawaiian Snow to a better place, showing listeners what could have been for Yayo and Brown. “Bags Doubled Tied,” with its clear mix and reliance on snappy drums, also provides one of the album’s lone highlights. Here, Yayo raps: “Lonely stoner like Kid Cudi/Friendships never last when you got money.” Unfortunately, everything else is mundane or highly unbearable and sinks Hawaiian Snow into an unforgiving hip-hop abyss.
It is unfathomable that Yayo’s star power and Brown’s blog buzz couldn’t have lead to a better recording. Not that the two needed to release a landmark project, except what is captured on Hawaiian Snow doesn’t sound too inspired or organized. Many rappers — especially those on the West Coast — have made healthy livings off drug-influenced, cash-infused lyricism. But while Yayo and Brown sought to emulate those artists, the final result is much too hazy to carry them further.