Redeye :: Bloodshot :: RedEye
as reviewed by Matt Jost

Rapper Redeye is like that boxer that managed to go 11 rounds but knows he's going to lose on points, so he gathers up all the strength he has left, throws his best punches and hopes to deliver that final blow before the bell rings. The twelfth song on this CD, "Maybe I Should", is a humorous excursion on human flaws. Trading lines with guest rapper 1/4 Bag about their shortcomings over a slow-dragging bass/guitar ensemble, Redeye infuses some much-needed wit into his album:

"Maybe I should stop gettin' drunk talkin' like Boomhauer
Maybe I should stop bein' a swinger like Austin Powers
Maybe I should stop rappin' and get a job sellin' propane
...and propane accessories
Maybe I should stop doin' dumb shit
...and worry about the neccessites"

Gradually, the song gathers more instrumentation, until they decide to turn it into a cheerful country tune. Hailing from Austin, Texas, being white himself and quoting Bubba Sparxxx talking about "that new South," Redeye, at long last does evoke comparisons to the underrated Timbaland protégée. Apart from that, "Bloodshot" is nothing like the many entertaining Southern rap albums that have graced our ears in the recent past.

When you first hear Redeye introduce himself, you think, "Holy cow, this is one hard white boy!" But as soon as his gruff voice starts rhyming, you realize he'll not be doing much damage. For that, he's still too much dealing with the basics of writing and flowing. The crude intro, delivered acapella, could work as some sort of wake-up call, but once the beats kick in, his vocal performance would definitely have to get more sophisticated. On occasions such as "Deeper", you might come to tolerate his grim flow as simply his steelo. Here, the former DJ holds his own alongside guests Homegrown. He's even clearly better than the twice appearing Monty Stacks, showing variation in his flow that is done on purpose, not by accident.

But when it comes down to actual penmanship, Redeye is struggling hard to make an impression. Ironically, he's got song titles that sound like they might be home to some insightful songwriting. Yet "September 11th" doesn't contain deeper thoughts than any poem written by a 5th grader about the traumatic events. Out of respect for America's and the author's feelings, I shall leave it at that. Just this: writing a song about such tragedy is extremely hard for anyone and is probably one thing that should be left to professionals.

Apart from that, a rapper is free to speak his mind. Redeye does so throughout his album, without regularly having to resort to foul language or violent imagery. There's the occasional curse word, but that's it. In "Love Is" he gives his definition of love over a mellow beat and some fine harp stringing and spheric sounds enhanced by a nice hall effect. Here, the simple rhymes ("two souls to make one whole / with the birds and the bees in the trees / and the birth in the earth / and the tears in the years / and the flowers and the hours / yo - love is the power") match up with the equally easy concept. Checking into their "Hotel California", The Eagles give the cue for "Always Remember", where Macleod drops the truest line right at the beginning: "So many concentratin' just on their future, or just on their past / either way, that shit won't last." Although the impressions he gets from going down memory lane are strong, he doesn't let nostalgia overpower him: "Don't think I forgot my bad times in my rhymes / visions of broken love and loyalty haunt my mind."

Redeye delves deeper into darkness with "Fear 1" and "Fear 2". Finally, this CD is starting to sound like it looks (a close-up on an eye, photographed with a red filter). Part 1 is heavy with guitars, Part 2 (being just a remix, really) samples a familiar movie theme, while Redeye professes his fear of failing, coming up with the tightest bundle of lyrics on the whole album:

"Once again I'm sittin' on the edge of my bed
tryin' to turn down the volume of thoughts in my head
cause I've been mislead of what lies ahead
and now it's got me restrainin' from stainin' the walls in red
from this pain that I bled
Yo man, how the fuck am I gonna keep myself fed?
cause this hunger for a better life has turned to starvation
and it's eatin' away at my concentration"

Like "Fear" produced by Drew & Ted, the most appealing on this album has to be "More to Life". Singer Jung Shin lends some female sensibility to the breezy track, and Redeye shows he's trying to do himself instead of following trends:

"There's gotta be more to life than this
more to rap than ice and Cris'
more than fame and fortune on the list
People usin' that movie 'Scarface' as a religion:
first you get the money, then you get the power, then you get the women
but what's dough good for - spendin'
and what's your life good for - endin'
There's gotta be a reason why God put us on this Earth"

Besides his humble and honest attitude, Redeye has one thing going for him, and that's his thick, gritty voice. It lends credibility to the feelings expressed. Especially when paired with an atypically smooth beat, it makes for a good effect. On the downside, there are his limited writing skills that prompt him to instantly resort to "solve 'em" once he uses the word "problems". Please, it's 2002. Rappers were caught up in that type of argumentation back in 1988. When Kid Rock seems like a lyrical genius in comparison, there is a lot of work to be done back at the lab. Speaking of, there's a rather dope rock/rap joint on "Bloodshot" called "Hit the Gas". Some local flavor from the 512 to be savoured.

If you're looking for some unique production, if you don't care too much about lyrical skills but like a rapper keeping +himself+ real, or if you're just curious what's happening in Austin, TX, then this professionally packaged debut by Redeye might be for you.

Music Vibes: 6 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 4 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 5 of 10

Originally posted: August 6, 2002