To many critics, and supporters, of rap music, those two words have very little in common. It is very possible for a person to be a great rapper, and produce an effort that is horrible musically, or to be a horrible rapper, and produce an effort that is musically genius. Many rappers have struggled finding a common ground between making an album a lyrical success and a musical one, and few are able to make an album that is great at both.
This is, essentially, the struggle of Tyger Vinum. He's a very good rapper, and lyricist. As a vocalist, he has a unique, growling at a rapid pace, sounding just as good or bad no matter what beat he rocks. As a lyricist, he has his flaws, but the imagery he brings to the table is generally above average. He's able to brag about his skills in a fresh manner, giving an epic feel to his words. Vinum's boasting over tracks like "It's Vinum" and lead single "I Maintain" is effortless, and extremely entertaining to listen to.
The problem is that, with a few exceptions, the production here is absolutely horrible. Vinum has a very strong, gritty delivery, and it is rarely matched by the production. He does flow well over the slightly fast-paced beats, but other than the aforementioned "I Maintain," and the awkward "Diggin U," none of them hit hard at all. Even at the highest bass settings, they don't bang, and they mostly sound bad. The album would have sounded better with Vinum simply spitting a cappella.
This is only amplified by the fact that Vinum's voice is completely monotonous. He has a unique delivery, and it could even work very well over some better production, but he never switches it up. In effect, the listener is forced to endure sixty minutes of Vinum growling over beats that serve only as an annoyance, and it numbs the mind around the fourth or fifth track.
While Vinum is a fairly strong rapper, he's not a very versatile one. He's generally best served growling about how great of a rapper he is. When he steps outside of that box, he appears lost. Songs like "Diggin U" and "Slither" come off as forced attempts to cross over, while "Urban Warfare" sees Vinum trying, and failing, to make a sobering message track.
Other than those missteps, "Sinister Ambitionz" is pretty consistent. Its biggest failing is that, mostly due to its sound being so monotonous, it doesn't have any real standout moments. Even when it Vinum drops his strongest verses, like on "Make End's Meet" the production serves as a distraction. And when Vinum isn't at the top of his game, the album suffers horribly.
Ultimately, "Sinister Ambitionz" is a success in that it gives Vinum a chance to display his skills, and he's good enough to make the album somewhat listenable. But its cheap sound just ruins what could have easily been a good album. Instead "Sinister Ambitionz" is mostly below average, and an unfitting musical album from a promising rapper.
Music Vibes: 2 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 7 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 4.5 of 10
Originally posted: April 17, 2007