Balance is a hard thing for an artist to achieve, especially in the perspective of the masses scrutinizing their work. If an artist fully expresses his creativity, exploring and stretching the full range of his capabilities, we often criticize him for not sticking to that which he is best at. At the same time, if an artist stays within that comfort range, we criticize him for not being creative enough.
Mr. Freeze's struggles lie mostly within the latter, for better or worse. As the name "Red Snow" would imply, Mr. Freeze is a singularly violent rapper, and he is most comfortable operating within a set of themes that deal with a sociopathic mentality. However, he operates within this mentality well; Mr. Freeze isn't just violent, he revels in art and imagery of violence, and goes about describing his violent state of mind with a fair amount of skill. Beneath the violent posturing and aggressive delivery lies an astute (and somewhat disturbing) eye for detail, bolstered by complex rhymes and good word usage.
That said, he doesn't have quite the skill of the greater hardcore artists, like Gravediggaz or Eminem. He doesn't have the charisma or amazing technical prowess of the latter, nor the sheer imagination of the former. So while he goes about his themes with a fair amount of skill, his aggression becomes more boring than thrilling. His redundancy in topic stifles the merit of his individual songs, as they tend to blend together over the course of the album. His delivery is fairly monotonous, and grates on the listener, especially when the productions are bland.
Staying with the production, the beats here suffer from a massive inconsistency. Generally, "Red Snow" works very well when Mr. Freeze is backed with good production. By the second half of the album though, the beats seem to run out of steam. Outside of the last two songs, the whole second half suffers from extremely bland production, and it absolutely kills the album, as Mr. Freeze's lack of thematic variety is amplified by the bland production.
"Red Snow" does manage to succeed reasonably well on an individual song basis. As a straight through listen, it suffers horribly from a succession of uninspired tracks; it would have benefited well from a fifteen minute shortening. Regardless, there are a number of very well done songs here. When aided by thrilling production, as on "Cut the Lights Out," Mr. Freeze seems to step his game up to match. The first few tracks of the album are equally exciting, while the album closing title track showcases his skills to the fullest, ominous and revealing:
While I witness depression
One hand on the bible while my mental's reflecting
Count your blessings, before you jump to conclusions
Ask me if I'm feeling better, the result's inconclusive
Got no right to do it, so I lower the pistol
Just release all the anger, man I wish it was simple
It's official, I just need to handle my fist
And go for broke with these demons and dismantle this shit
This phantoms is sick, haunting my brain 'til it rots
Don't know where this road is headed, but I need it to stop..."
It's easy to dismiss this as uninspired indulgence in rage, partly because some of it is. However, Mr. Freeze is skilled enough that "Red Snow" has many bright spots, for all its failings. Any fan of hardcore rap, or dark, violent music in general would be well served to have songs like "Beef with the World" in their collection. On the other hand, there is nothing here that is particularly outstanding, so it is doubtful that many would be remiss by skipping this entirely.
Music Vibes: 4 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 7 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 5.5 of 10
Originally posted: July 17, 2007