There’s something very refreshing about listening to Knobody. Despite the implications of the album title, Knobody’s approach almost completely lacks any self-importance or pretension. A rapper who shuns being boxed into any category, Knobody easily fits gangster references side by side with Dragonball Z and WWE allusions. This refusal to be pigeonholed into any standards but his own creates the most interesting aspect of “Tha Clean Up.”
This honesty, combined with an unusual delivery (which fits perfectly in the Hieroglyphics camp that he is affiliated with), gives his lyrics the ability to draw the listener in. He easily has enough charisma to carry this album, combined with a good of wit and skill. “Tha Clean Up” swings effortlessly between the free flowing boasts of “Back Up” to the club-ready “I’m On It” and into the more introspective “The Caged Bird.” The whole piece is glued together very nicely, subtly changing tempos and themes without sacrificing any lyrical or musical quality.
At the same time, the low budget nature of the album hurts it. Knobody is skilled, but he’s not good enough to make a great album over sub-par production. Unfortunately, that’s all he’s presented with throughout the album. There’s not a standout beat here, and while they do establish mood fairly well, they aren’t enough to actually put you in that mood.
So, while Knobody is certainly impressive, the production holds “Tha Clean Up” back from being a standout. Knobody shows a good range of skills, flows, and themes, but the album just doesn’t hold out as a musical piece. With a bigger budget and a little more polishing, however, Knobody might turn out to be somebody very special.