• 24Aug

    8thW1, No Room For Dessert Album Review

    As far as the AOK Collective goes, 8thW1 is a bit of an aberration.

    Since releasing his stellar debut album, LoveMoneyAndMusic (2008), the Show And Prove Alum has been nearly invisible. Outside of select guest appearances (Fresh Daily’s The Gorgeous Killer In Crimes of Passion, 2 Hungry Bros‘ My Crews All Thinner, PSO’s Moontones for example) and the four one minute and forty-four second long snippets from his upcoming collaborative project with PSO, Suicide By Jellyfish, 8th remains in the shadows. It’s rare to see him lingering at any of the plethora of Underground showcases littering the NYC music scene. And judging from the events calendar on his website (lovemoneyandmusic.com), it’s even more rare to find him rocking anywhere. With a total of 8 shows, June 2009 was his busiest month in over a year.

    The irony is that, on the low, many wondered whether 8th may be the nicest member of the AOK Collective. The indelible nature of LoveMoneyAndMusic — where he ingeniously conceptualizes three of the most generic topics in Hip-Hop (love, money and music) without straying from the blueprint or ever coming close to cliche — consistently intriguing guest appearances and a comparatively low profile inevitably added to his mystique. The assumption was that he was in the kitchen cooking up the dope, never that he wasn’t dope enough to rock more often. After nearly two years, 8thW1 returns with his second full length offering, No Room For Dessert.

    Produced entirely by 2 Hungry Bros. (Ben and Deep), No Room For Dessert feels like a throwback Hip-Hop album — break beat heavy, simplistic hooks, light on conceptual consistency.

    8th spreads the content in all directions. His ability to tackle common topics from a fresh perspective through easily accessible yet clever lyrics is a large part of his appeal. “Short And Sweet”, for example, attacks the high sugar content in nearly everything we consume, brilliantly flipping KRS-One’s epic bar from “Sound Of Da Police” into it’s hook: “They claim we selling crack / but you be doing that”. “Stupidface” — with it’s tales of broken friendships — somehow manages to be equally introspective, corny and hilarious. Opener, “Say My Name Right” clarifies his often mispronounced moniker. “It’s 8th-One / Not 8th Wonder / Call me 8th, that’s if you can understand that”. “Poppers” uses a “King Of Rock”-like beat and a Run DMC borrowed hook to address the masses that claim quality rap music no longer exists:

    “My Hip-Hop ain’t wack / None of my rappers suck / That’s why / I don’t really wanna bring nothing back / I just wanna bring this up / And I know the radio ain’t that poppin / But it’s all good cause you got other options / If there’s more stores for you to shop in / why complain about the things you coppin? / Don’t do what they say do / The truth’s right under your nasal / So don’t let the mainstream take you / to where the masses are so ungrateful”

    NRFD’s most potent cut is undoubtedly “Everyday”, and unfortunately one of few instances where 8th is able to resonate as strongly as he does throughout LMAM. Over 2 Hungry Bros sublime soundscape and angelic sample, 8th opines on appreciating the ups and the downs of whatever life tosses your way, kicking insightful bars such as “I learned more from sinning than sitting in church / and it makes me wonder which one came first” and “if you wanna get closer to God / go live in a cave”. It’s the type of track that follows you through everyday life, providing relevance in even the most mundane situations, allowing you to lean on lines like “I don’t wanna get over / I just wanna get through / I don’t want all of it / I am good with a few”. And ultimately, that’s why music is important: to provide distraction and inspiration and motivation. That’s why LMAM is a great LP. And that’s where NRFD falters.

    “Be On You” is one of the album’s best songs, but only because Sleepwalkas hilariously sardonic verses steal the show. “Can I slip this pill in your tonic? / It makes everything funny and my words melodic / In minutes you’ll be catatonic”. “No Harm” by design will ignite any party anywhere, but Reef The Lost Cauze and Homeboy Sandman bookend the most worthy verses on the cut, leaving 8th and Von Pea dueling for third place. “Talkin’” is the definition of filler. Brokn.Englsh carries “Skywriter”. “More Go!” has immediate commercial appeal, but feels more like a J.Renee song on 8thW1’s album. “Can’t Win’em All” boasts a sing-songy verse from 8th, weak bars from Fresh Daily including infuriatingly un-fresh similies like “you gotta make moves like it’s chess not checkers” and a PSO verse that completely strays from the song concept. Bars like “My win loss record is flawless” and “I have less Ls than Ws” are not only contradictory, but have no place on a track about learning from your failures. And NRFD’s best beat is lodged in the album’s anus as a hidden bonus cut.

    The point is, next to LMAM, NRFD is so topically scattered and clogged with guest appearances that it not only minimizes 8th, but it exposes his inability to connect as an emcee. It’s not that his verses are consistently wack or subpar, but that the majority are extremely mediocre. When twelve other rappers hop on your eleven track album, you have to bring the ill every time or you run the risk of being marginalized. On NRFD, as an artist, 8th falls into the middle of the pack on his own project.

    LMAM shined because of it’s wittiness, it’s consistency and it’s focus. It was a thematic endeavor that attacked common yet generic topics like love, money and music from a fresh voice, a fresh perspective and blended so well with the production that replay value was never in question. NRFD feels like a 2 Hungry Bros. mixtape featuring 8thW1 and others — a stark contrast from how the New Jersey lyricists built his reputation.

    But this isn’t a comparison.

    It’s an album review.

    And as an album, from mic to plug, No Room For Dessert is a blast to Hip-Hop’s past. Break beat heavy. Catchy yet simplistic hooks. Put it on at a party and let it rock. The production alone is solid enough to add to your background music rotation, and 8th and family will occasionally grab your attention with interesting commentary and quotations. It highlights 8th’s ability to speak on a broad range of topics, even if it fails to show growth as an emcee. We’ve seen just about all the rhyme schemes and wittiness from him before (often times much more impressively), which raises the question as to whether he’s advanced in skill level — especially since “lyrical skills matter about nil / the question is how many do what you do / The appeal / How many think your cool” feels like an admittance of a new view point. There is very little that’s overtly offensive on this album, just like there is very little that is progressive. The combination of which greatly jeopardizes replay value, leaving NRFD feeling less like a buffet, and more like a continental breakfast.

    FACT.

    RATING: 2.5 out of 5

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Discussion 5 Responses

  1. August 24, 2010 at 9:52 pm

    What a review! Let me first say that I appreciate any review that takes the time to really look at an artist’s past work. I can tell that you really took your time to listen to the album before reviewing it which is very commendable.

    That being said, comparing NRFD and LMAM dosent make any sense. LMAM is 8thw1′s debut album that is intended to be personal and a reflection of himself. NRFD is supposed to be a revisitation of the 90′s boom bap era, and is not even an 8thw1 album but a 2 Hungry Bros album featuring 8thw1. This is not meant to be a follow up to LMAM at all, 2HB’s wanted to display their production skills with all of the AOK affiliated emcees and 8thw1 leading the pack.

    I definitely contradicted myself on “Can’t win em all” you were right about that. However, my verse was not off topic at all, I rhymed metaphorically about the struggles of winning in life and in music and my realization that im “not made of stone” but I’m human and vulnerable. It was a spacey verse I admit, but still on topic.

    All in all, I think this was a very thorough review and as an artist, I appreciate it! Keep doing a good job!

    ~p.so

    P.S. “Suicide by Jellyfish” comes next week!!

  2. August 25, 2010 at 10:43 am

    Damn company,
    First off u went in on the review. Holding no punches, witch no jurnalist should ever do. But I think 2 harsh. It is actually 2HB’s ft. 8th. So u should compare to 2hb albums. Thanks 4 the sw’s shout on “be on you” witch I feel was just a fun semi freestyle not the best on the album. YIKES! I hope 6C’s can cut you’re review. Still love you’re honesty. That’s a lost art in editorials & blogs so I commend u

  3. August 25, 2010 at 10:45 am

    Damn company,
    First off u went in on the review. Holding no punches, witch no jornalist should ever do. But I think 2 harsh. It is actually 2HB’s ft. 8th. So u should compare to 2hb albums. Thanks 4 the sw’s shout on “be on you” witch I feel was just a fun semi freestyle not the best on the album. YIKES! I hope 6C’s can cut you’re review. Still love you’re honesty. That’s a lost art in editorials & blogs so I commend u

  4. August 25, 2010 at 1:53 pm

    great review!!!!

  5. May 10, 2011 at 12:12 pm

    [...] Founded by BHF alum, Fresh Daily, A-OK originally consisted of fellow BHF alum)Homeboy Sandman, Show & Prove alum, 8thW1, P.So (who will be performing in the May 2011 Show & Prove) and Nola Darling. The crew gained [...]