If you turn on the television and happen to catch a rap music video, chances are you'll see the stereotypical diamonds sparkling and objectification of females. In an oddly sensational way, the rappers that can be caught on network television are living the American Dream. Many of them have come from humble beginnings, rising to fame, acclaim, and most of all, fortune. America was founded on the concept that everyone would have a chance to achieve, though it certainly hasn't always been that way, and this idealism can be found everywhere in hip-hop. Those artists that are littering the airways, regardless of preference, must be respected for reaching that level of celebrity. They are perfect examples of what the USA is supposed to stand for.
Duece has quite a start on the road to stardom. His single mother raised him and his siblings, and he worked throughout high-school to make things easier. His cousin and rapping inspiration's unfortunate death led him to the conclusion that he should make a career out of the release he found in the mic. Rising from a difficult background, Duece's success would perfectly capture the American Dream, and he has already shown signs of what's to come. After buying a beat from C-Major, Duece showed enough passion and promise to receive his endorsement and partnership, and the result of this is his debut album, "Brookfield, California."
This record is difficult to explain, because it shows a great deal of promise but ultimately falls short. Duece is an able lyricist, and on certain songs this is obvious. His most impressive performance comes on "Undercover Runner," an amusing ode to scheming women. He exhibits plenty of charisma in explaining a certain woman's devious behavior, even switching his voice up for the third verse. Unfortunately, this is one of the few tracks on which he appears to be rapping for a specific purpose other than simply to rap. For the most part, this release indicates that he is a decent rapper, and nothing else. Occasionally there is an amusing line, but nothing worth a rewind. With little rhyming variation and only two songs featuring guests, it's tough to appreciate a full record of formulaic lyrics and inauspicious punchlines. Aside from that, because Duece doesn't seem interested in trying anything new on the rhyming front, the record is stagnant, and additional listens will not reveal anything new.
Production duties are almost entirely left to C Major, aside from three beats that are attributed to others. "Brookfield" has distinctive synthesized sound effects, and on the first listen, it sounds pretty nice. The following "All These" has a similar beat, not in tempo, but due to the same types of sound effects that are used. Aside from the chorus jacking Dre's "2001," there is a serious lack of creativity in the production. A whole lot of bounce is thrown around on nearly every track, without any attempt to sound natural. "2 Hot" sounds tolerable at first, but guest producer Big D throws in an unnecessary sound effect that ruins the track.
From top to bottom, the music isn't bad, it just fails to add anything to the album. Nearly every beat sounds synthetic, which isn't necessarily bad, but aside from a handful, they are nearly devoid of catchiness. The sounds are all clean, but mostly come off as a collection of sound effects placed in some order in hope of sounding funky. Because of the artificial-sounding quality, even when a beat is fairly well-constructed, the listener will already be used to hearing that type of music, which lessens the enjoyment of that particular song.
Duece does a great job with the hooks, which are clearly his most polished aspect skill as a rap artist. He seems to be having trouble letting himself go, and he sometimes sounds like he's containing himself in the studio. The bottom line is that he's not half bad, but there is already plenty of material out there that sounds like "Brookfield, California." Duece has the talent and the seasoning, he just needs to do something to separate himself from the pack. A little variation on the production tip wouldn't hurt, either. He's getting there, but he has yet to stretch himself creatively. Once he does that, watch out.
Music Vibes: 5 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 6 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 5.5 of 10
Originally posted: March 8, 2005