It's not easy to make a good album. The audience in any genre is extremely demanding, expecting the best from every artist they encounter. Artists are expected to express their own individuality, but most fans have prejudices in sound, expecting every artist to fall within a certain blueprint. So when an artist is too much of an individual, he's criticized for not falling within the genre's stereotypes, which is a difficult balance to maintain. Often, one flaw in its production can be the difference between a good and bad album.
In Chamber's case, he's a talented writer, able to cross the line between braggart and insecure in a split second, and do both well. One only has to listen to "Fathers Day" to see that he has a gift for expressing the pain in his life (although he can be a little melodramatic). He also has a decent ear for beats, as the selection here is pretty good, drawing from everything from country to horror movies. For most people this alone would be enough to make a good album. As Phonte said, "good beats, good rhymes, what more do you want?"
Indeed, give this recipe to any other rapper, and it probably would be a very good album. Chamber, however, has the absolute worst delivery that this reviewer has ever witnessed. It is unfathomable why somebody would choose to rap like Chamber does. To try to describe him, Chamber raps like he's trying to rap, whine, and take a shit all at once. What makes it worse; it's not even what his real voice sounds like, as normal tone of speaking slips out every now and then. He's choosing to rap in as horrible as a manner as humanly possible, just so nobody will like his music (at least, that's all I can come up with).
It may seem a superfluous nag, but the fact is that Chamber's delivery rots everything that could have been good about "Beyond Oblivion." The beats, which by themselves do a good job of creating a mood and being fairly unique, are marred by the awful sound of Chamber himself. The lyrics, which are well written in themselves, suddenly don't even matter, because nobody is going to listen to them when they're delivered in such an irritating matter. Chamber even handles the hooks, which means there isn't a single moment in any of his songs that's good to even listen to.
However, the album doesn't suffer universally for Chamber's vocal delivery. The album works when the beats are darker, like "The Dilemma" and "The Window" as that type of production works best with his voice. It's on more melodic songs like "Fathers Day," which could be career-defining songs from any other artist, that his delivery absolutely destroys the album. Even the harder selections suffer from his voice, as it's hard to threaten when you sound like you're constipated.
It's a pity that this review had to be mostly about his delivery, because "Beyond Oblivion" could have been a pretty good album. He's not the greatest writer, but songs like "Peaceful Nowhere" show a great amount of potential from him. Unfortunately, his one flaw on the album mars the sound of it to the point where there is no enjoyment to be found here. "Beyond Oblivion" is the rare case where good beats and good rhymes just aren't enough.
Music Vibes: 2 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 7 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 4.5 of 10
Originally posted: July 31, 2007