While Boston’s not necessarily known to have churned out a large number of recognizable figures within the genre, a hip-hop fixture in Massachusetts rap lore is Slaine. Known also for his work with La Coka Nostra, Special Teamz, and more recently for having done some work in film, the Boston native has never been one to mince words while aggressively leading listeners through his bold bars of indulgence and excess.
This seems to be the mindset when approaching his latest solo record, The King of Everything Else. The cover of the record depicts a contemptuous king laughing while looking down upon the pile of vices atop which he sits: money, women, drugs, and alcohol. Some rappers strive to be the ‘King of New York,’ but Slaine would rather be ruler of all that such depravity encompasses. It’s an intense listen with more of his recognizable bitterness and bite at every turn.
This intensity is carried largely through the man’s delivery—a rough snarl that remains quite similar to that of Vinnie Paz (who, coincidentally enough, is featured later in the record). From the opening stomp-clap of “Destroy Everything,” Slaine stays pleased by his world of “demented music” in which he has a “style a wild mixture of powder and hard liquor.” These admissions of being unbalanced set the listener up for a turbulent ride the rest of the album. The most recent single, “Bobby Be Real,” sees Slaine line up alongside the incredibly swift Tech N9ne and Madchild of Swollen Members for some vivid storytelling backed by a menacing big band.
It’s an enjoyable listen (albeit of a twisted nature) while possibly serving as a good indication of what’s to come from the Slaine and Madchild record reportedly slated for release later this year. There isn’t much jubilation past this, however. From the graphic allusions to the world of drugs on “Dopehead,” the downtrodden self-reflection of “Pissed it All Away,” and the politically positioned “Children of the Revolution,” Slaine willingly dives head first into the darkness of his own world and that around him
Such heavy lyrical material may prove to get the better of some listeners. Clocking in at just under one hour in length, the constant dependency on the the subject matters at hand feels tiring—a bit repetitive in places over the course of 15 tracks. There never seems to be much room for a dose of positivity amidst the heavy-handed helpings of bleak narrative from the darkest reaches of Slaine’s mischievous mind, though one could always look to the gigantic, pop chorus-style hooks of both “Dot Ave.” and “Come Back Down” for a little encouragement. Slaine survives this streak of darkness that runs rampant through The King of Everything Else by telling these past tales of overindulgence in a tone that has power to be both cutting and cathartic—something not many emcees can do easily, let alone convincingly.
3.5 out of 5
You can purchase The King of Everything Else on iTunes.