By 2007 the era of G-Funk seems to be fading into ancient history. And when its funky bass grooves were replaced by the simple, pounding bass notes of dirty south music, it seemed like the west coast got replaced along with it, at least in the mainstream. Nevertheless, the West isn't gone, and it's brimming with rappers who are trying to bring it back to the charts.
Butch Cassidy represents something of a throwback to the G-Funk era. An affiliate of many west coast rappers, most notably Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre, Butch's smooth, catchy crooning will inevitably draw comparisons to the more famous Nate Dogg. Damizza, his partner in crime, handles most of the rapping and production duties. This album-long synergy between rapper/producer and singer creates an interesting dynamic that is, for some unfathomable reason, rarely heard in hip hop music.
Unfortunately neither is extremely good at what they do. Butch Cassidy will draw comparisons to Nate Dogg, true, but only as a poor man's version of him. Butch isn't bad, but he isn't as good of a singer, and just doesn't posses anywhere near the same charisma. Similarly, Damizza just isn't a great rapper or producer. He's nowhere near horrible at either, but he'll never wow you with anything he does.
Nonetheless, Damizza's production does create exactly the vibe intended. It's a smooth, cruising album, and incredibly consistent. His smooth raps and Butch Cassidy's understated crooning fit superbly with this aesthetic, so the two mesh perfectly. In terms of mood, "Back B4 You're Lonely" is executed flawlessly. It's nothing you'll ever go out of your way to listen to, but if you're in the mood for some smooth music, with a little hip hop edge, this will most likely do the job for you.
From the moment "Get This Party On" slithers on to your speakers, this album has a very laid back sound, and stick to it. Ironically, the up-beat, rock-tinged "In 2's" is the album's biggest highlight, inserting a change of pace nicely. The album ends on another highlight, "Tragic End," a sobering finale. They deserved to be mentioned, because they're the only songs which stand out. It's one of the major failings of this album, that it dwells on the same subject matter and sound, to the point where most of the songs sound incredibly repetitive.
The biggest problem with "Back B4 You're Lonely," however, is that while it's based on a very solid concept, the artists making the music just aren't very exciting. Damizza is, at best, and average producer, and as such, none of the beats will really move you, they're just okay to play in the background. The same goes for his raps, and Butch Cassidy's singing. They're doing an album that Snoop Dogg and Nate Dogg should be doing, and for that matter, have already done with 213.
It's a good concept, and very consistent, but in the end, "Back B4 You're Lonely" just doesn't have a solid selling point. It's something you've seen done in countless songs on the radio, except watered down and spread over an album. You won't be compelled to turn it off, but there's no real reason to listen to it. It makes for decent scenery, but there's nothing here to hold your attention.
Music Vibes: 5 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 3 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 4 of 10
Originally posted: April 17, 2007