SOUNDS LIKE: Punchline-heavy verses from the '90s x Non-commercial production from '09
FUN FACT: The four MCs initially came together on "Slaughterhouse"---a track included on Joe Budden's Halfway House. Nino Bless, who was also featured on the song, wasn't invited to join the group because other members felt he didn't pay enough dues.
WHY COMPLEX IS CO-SIGNING IT: There have been many hip-hop "supergroups" that looked great on paper, but never fully materialized on wax. In that sense, Slaughterhouse---consists of Joe Budden, Joell Ortiz, Crooked I, and Royce Da 5'9"---deserves praise just for putting out an actual album. In addition, more praise is due, since all four MCs deliver on the album as a unit. And let's be clear: Slaughterhouse isn't necessarily built for the current market. What fans can hear is exactly what you might expect---verses filled with vicious punchlines and sharp deliveries that are guaranteed to get heads nodding.
It begins with "Sound Off," where Royce assembles the clique and compares all four members to separate parts of Voltron: "Joell Ortiz is the body/the cannibal slash killer, kill you then eat your body." On "Lyrical Murderers" the collective brings out the good-ol' verbal gunplay, threatening to kill all rappers (lyrically!). While rap quotables continue to pour out like it's '94, the album takes on a lighter pace starting with the upbeat "Not Tonight," followed by the surprisingly addictive single "The One." The overall energy of the album is nicely exemplified on the Fat Man Scoop-assisted "Onslaught 2," where each MC shines. If the LP consisted of only battle rhymes then it could have been labeled as a certified mixtape or even a dope street album. But the album elevates itself towards the end with a set of introspective tracks. The group discusses its inner demons ("Pray"), love-hate relationship with hip-hop ("Cut You Loose"), and past tragedies ("Raindrops") all in a cohesive manner. With all four rhyme-spitters displaying top-of-the-notch bars, it makes one wonder about the competitive atmosphere which took place during the studio sessions.
Unfortunately, there are a few minor fall backs. All three skits on the album are unnecessary and "Salute," produced by Mr. Porter, features bland guitar riffs and organs accompanied by a dull hook from Pharoahe Monch. Still, Slaughterhouse's debut is truly an impressive effort. Now if only The Firm made something this solid...
KEY TRACKS (LISTEN):
"Cut You Loose"
THE COMPLEX 7: SLAUGHTERHOUSE
Interview By Jaeki Cho
#1: WHAT'S THE WORST WAY YOU'VE BROKEN UP WITH SOMEONE?
Joe Budden: My baby's family and me. That breakup was pretty bad. It was hurting how we broke up.
Joell Ortiz: For me it was probably with my ninth baby mother?
Joell Ortiz: Nah! [Laughs.] I would probably say with the first girl I ever loved back in '99.
Royce Da 5'9": Honestly, I don't remember breaking up with a girl. My wife and I knew since high school. The relationship that I had that affected the most was my relationship with Eminem.
Crooked I: Yea, mine would be outside of that type of stuff too. I don't know for some reason I'm good with all my exes.
#2: WHAT'S YOUR NUMBER ONE DEAL-BREAKER FOR A GIRLFRIEND?
Crooked I: Bad feet are a deal-breaker for me. I don't care if she's bad. I've turned down bitches that you've seen on TV because they had bad feet.
Joell Ortiz: Airheads.
Royce Da 5'9": [Nods.] I fuck with you on that level. I don't like to be in a relationship with a girl who talks too much and curses too much.
Joe Budden: For me personally, if she has a problem with Tahiry, I can't be in a relationship with her.
#3: WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE SNEAKER OF ALL TIME?
Royce Da 5'9": I'm not a sneakerhead. I'm not the type of dude who stands outside in line to wait for $300 Air Force 1s. I just don't like shoes that look like it's been worn a few times. It's like I can't wear a white tee twice. I just like to look crisp.
Crooked I: Me personally? I like the old school Air Maxes.
Royce Da 5'9": I wear shoes based on what my money is looking like. If I'm wearing Gucci everyday this week you could be like, "That nigga just got a check."
Joe Budden: I'm a big fan of comfort. I'm not spending a night outside waiting for the shit to come out.
Crooked I: They were doing that heavy in Long Beach for the Air Yeezys.
Joe Budden: I ain't doing that, man. Yeezys are dope though.
#4: WHAT'S THE MOST EMBARRASSING PIECE OF CLOTHING YOU'VE EVER WORN?
Royce Da 5'9": That's easy. Hammer pants!
Crooked I: I knew you would say that.
Royce Da 5'9": Paisley shirts. That was a crazy look.
Crooked I: I don't know if ya'll had this, but when we were mad young, we used to have this thing called the Gucci fold. You take the jean right here, and [folds it] put this right here and then you roll this fold all the way up. With your socks showing and all that.
Complex: What's that some farmer shit?
Crooked I: [Laughs.] Niggas used to be mad on the Gucci fold!
Joell Ortiz: I was 10 years old.
Royce Da 5'9": I know what you're going to say. The "Beat It" jacket.
Joell Ortiz: Nah! [Laughs.] One of my favorite uncles who always came through with the illest gifts on Christmas got me these Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle sneakers.
Joell Ortiz: And you don't tell him you can't wear them. And I was like 10 or 11 years old, man. I went to school with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle sneakers for a week! Them niggas killed me over that. I got funny that week because I had to defend myself.
Complex: What about you, Joe?
Joell Ortiz: This shirt! [Laughs.]
Joe Budden: I've seen that shit coming.
Joell Ortiz: Pause! This nigga is crazy!
Joe Budden: Back in the days, my mom used to put me in some crazy shit. For Halloween she dressed me up as Prince. I was like four or five.
Joell Ortiz: You remember it!
Joe Budden: [Ignores Joell] Man, my mother put me in some leather pants at some point. And them fucking Converses or were they Lottos? Either one it was something that had the little plastic you kept changing the color on it.
Royce Da 5'9": Lottos.
Crooked I: Lottos or Kaepas.
Joell Ortiz: Lottos were hard!
Joe Budden: Not the thing I had.
#5: IF YOU HAD A WEEK HOLIDAY, WHAT WOULD YOU DO?
Crooked I: I'm with the down time, man. I'm big into politics so I'm probably watching MSNBC.
Joe Budden: I would have sex with my girl all week.
Royce Da 5'9": I'll do nothing. Spending time with my family.
Joell Ortiz: Yea, I'll spend time with my two sons. Probably watch mad movies and order food in. Laughing, joking...
Joe Budden: Aww...
Royce Da 5'9": I know what you're doing. You're trying to get people to fall in love with you.
Joell Ortiz: You know what? I'm being honest, aight? I do that every weekend.
Joe Budden: Every time there's press people you'll be like, "Taking girls to the carnival, cotton candy and hold the door for them." Man, shut the fuck up, nigga!
#6: WHAT HAS TO BE IN YOUR FRIDGE AT ALL TIMES?
Crooked I: Ramen noodles.
Joe Budden: My fridge is empty as a mutha...
Royce Da 5'9": I'll say milk. My kids eat cereal every morning. So I got all kinds of milk in the refrigerator.
Joell Ortiz: Eggs because I could eat those all day. I know how to make scrambled eggs, I know how to make omelets, and I know how to make egg salads.
Joe Budden: Yo, who is he auditioning for?
Joell Ortiz: I'm telling them...
Joe Budden: Nobody asked you what you do with eggs, man!
Royce Da 5'9" and Crooked I: [Laughs.]
Joe Budden: This nigga's trying to get a girl so bad.
Joell Ortiz: A girl? I don't want a girl. But listen, I'm just saying this because I'm the type that could survive off eggs.
Crooked I: I want Patron, Tequila Sunrise, nah'mean? And I want them ramen noodles!
Joe Budden: I'll have ramen noodles with eggs and murder both of you!
Crooked I: Don't fuck with me on some ramen noodle shit! I can fry ramen noodles.
Joell Ortiz: I'm serious on the egg game.
Complex: I think ya'll need to have a battle.
Royce Da 5'9": I don't know, because I do my shits in the microwave.
#7: WHEN'S THE LAST TIME YOU CRIED?
Joell Ortiz: Yo, when this nigga walked in with the shirt [points at Joe Budden], I cried... laughing!
Crooked I: When we finished this track on our album called "Raindrops." I have a verse about my mother's identical twin that was stabbed, killed, and raped. And it brought tears to my eyes to make the verse up.
Royce Da 5'9": Last time I cried was when Proof died. When I first found out about it I didn't cry because it didn't hit me. But before his funeral, I cried without anyone knowing, and I didn't cry at the funeral. And my son had a talent show, which I got a little bit misty. Not like he was a superstar in the group or anything, but I was just like, "That's my boy!"
Joe Budden: Super-slaughter-badass niggas. I was crying last night watching 24! When Jack Bauer came back. I was teary-eyed then. I was teary-eyed when Padded Room came out. I was teary-eyed when Obama won. I don't care how many times. It's therapeutic.
Crooked I: You know muthafuckas act so damn tough. "Oh, I never cry." But the day you do?
Joe Budden: They need a mop.
Royce Da 5'9": Why bottle that shit up like that? Niggas is super thugs.
Complex: You all right, Joell?
Joell Ortiz: I was thinking about my cousin who got killed. He was 19. He was rolling through a block in Brooklyn. Niggas chased him through, he was on his block, him and his man split up, and they were supposed to meet at a movie theater. His man told me he was at the movie theater and was there for like five to 10 minutes, he never showed up. He went around the corner and saw my cousin who fell into his arms and died. Yeah, I get tears just thinking about that story. And before that I was teary when I saw Brown Sugar on TV.