Amongst all of the star-studded acts in rap today, a lot of artists get lost in the shuffle. From all walks of life, coming out of nearly every area code, there are rappers that will never get the credit they strive for. Even those who get deals are certainly not guaranteed to blow up, and many just get caught in the grind. This lack of success isn’t always attributed to faulty talent, and anyone could attest that lyrical prowess isn’t the first thing that an A&R looks for in an artist.
LOS got a record deal, so he is a step ahead of many in the game. He is on the independent Motion E records, releasing his first album since “Lyrics Without Script,” a freestyle album in 2001. “Where I’m From” features a confident looking Los on the cover, sneering at the listener in a Sixers jersey. He appears to be a bit cocky, but you have to be to release a freestyle album. Then again, what rapper isn’t arrogant? Of course, if that cockiness is backed up by the content, this reviewer isn’t complaining.
The problem is, for the most part, “Where I’m From” doesn’t do anything to prove that attention should be paid. The artist’s own wall-to-wall production is never irritating, but sounds synthetic and unrefined. Lyrically, like so many other rappers, LOS sounds far less comfortable with written rhymes than freestyling. He does an admirable job of trying to convey emotion, but doesn’t provide enough personal detail in his rhymes to sound unique. The result of these two elements is an album that is never terribly interesting, and occasionally ventures into the territory of boredom.
“Guess Who’s Back” starts things off with an intensely bouncy beat from the artist, and LOS displays an impressive double-time flow over the caffeinated production. By around minute three, though, it will begin to wear on the listener’s ears. “Motion E” provides a similarly synthetic sound, but in this case the manufactured horns will actually produce nods, especially with the oddly appealing hook. This is a unique moment on the album, where the production actually enhances the song instead of stalling or detracting. “Join In” has LOS slipping again, though, with a beat that sounds like a Dre reject from “The Wash” soundtrack. The pounding pianos aren’t bad, they are just obviously influenced by the Good Doctor. Lyrically, it is just a whole bunch of lines like “you a fag just like your dad” and “we stopping your production like menopause,” which are completely uninspired and devoid of creativity.
In the following song, “Trill 98.4,” LOS calls out Nick Cannon in a freestyle. I have no idea what’s behind that one. Regardless, the freestyle confirms my theory that he is better off the top, as he rips off an impressive verse. The nine minute “Iowa Park” flirts with the thought of success at writing, and LOS gives easily his best performance of the record. Unfortunately, the length of the track slows it down, despite his surprisingly beautiful trumpet solo.
After “Iowa Park,” the downhill portion of “Where I’m From” drags along horribly. Nineteen tracks of the artificial sounding production is tough to swallow, and LOSs falls back into a rut of simple rhyme schemes and dull concepts. The only real standout is “My Dealer,” an ode to his favorite pharmacist. An emphasis on poorly executed club tracks hinders the second half even more, because the production is infinitely more bothersome on these dance joints. With a more organic sound, his lyrics would have been enhanced greatly. It is very hard to sound nice over wack beats, and LOS doesn’t have the skill to pull it off.
As a recording artist, LOS has a lot of growing to do, and it shows on “Where I’m From.” His work behind the boards is iffy at best, and he never gets comfortable on the mic. Some varied outside production would have done wonders for curing the musical problem, at least. No one knows what the future holds for him, for now though, it’s back to the lab.