The rapper that refers to himself as iii is an enigma. He refuses to disclose the institutes, or the other rappers he's influenced by, yet he still claims to be a man that has studied music all of his life. He finally gets to drop a proper release with "Holidays" that is sure to answer many of the questions that an unknown Louisville, Kentucky-based rapper may raise.
Certainly opening an album with a song called "Rappers Are Like Cats" is way for an emcee to distinguish from the standard fare out these days. A song like this creates a division between an underground image as opposed to that of a commercial rapper and iii stands firmly on one side of the line. The beat of the song starts off with a subdued and very typical drum pattern and is complimented by dramatically weeping soap opera-esqe strings. The concept of the song is analogy between why iii does not like rappers in the same ways that he does not like cats as suggested with lines like, "Watch 'em all parade through the streets like 'who wants a piece'!?/ But what really gets me is they're both AKA pussies," and "they treat their music like their litter box." It is an extremely awkward intro as iii often seems to be ranting off-beat about his distaste for both of those 'creatures' that he targets on the track. The first thing we really know about the featured artist is his anti-feline disposition--weird.
"Louisville (Home of the Me)" is a hometown ode that is relatable in the sense that everyone has some kind of insight of where they come from. The track talks about the blue-collared town in a way that most people living in any average city in the United States understand. It references the simple everyday life things like drinking at the pubs, talking to women and that feeling that you are one with the town you grow up in. It is an okay track that is a good diversion from the polarized 'NYC' and 'Cali' tracks we have grown accustomed to. Even though iii thinks that he is some kind of oddity of the rap world his influences (that he refuses to note) are fairly obvious as he mimics Slug (of Atmosphere) in many ways. Slug also paid homage to his hometown of Minnesota on his “God Loves Ugly” album that was similar, while far more head-nodding than “Louisville (Home of the Me)”.
The pulsating beat of the title track sets a higher expectation for the rest of the album as it is certainly amongst the elite productions on "Holidays". The chipmunk voice sample in the background really adds a depth needed on many of the mundane tracks on the disc. He continues to flow like Slug, but sometimes it just leaves something to be desired in terms of writing:
"All my lovely places
Where I can sit on the stool and address my favorite waitress
'How are you today Miss?
Yes I think you're gorgeous
But I think you know that
So I'm not interested
I can be your doormat
You could be my trophy
Travel through the city
We could practice to be happy"
The way he delivers these lines that are supposed to be natural dialogue amongst the lyrics of the song are unconvincing. This is an area in which he still pales in comparison to those of Slug, or other above average underground emcees.
The featured artist gets too derivative on many of the tracks, too. For instance, "Not That Easy" is a plodding cut that tries to be forceful by being very deliberate and slow with the lyrical content. He basically is talking in slow melody on this and it definitely becomes a boring affair. "Took Her Down The River" has an oddly robotic approach on the verses. These types of problems that iii has in creating an effective flow are an example of inexperience and a lack of identity. He claims to have studied music his entire life, but these failures do not exemplify a man who knows all of the ways to construct a powerful song. Finally, he does not sell his lyrics in a heartfelt way like the previously mentioned artists that obviously influence him.
Born Stanley W. Chase III, the image projected by his rap alias 'iii' on the album "Holidays" offers a glimpse of his personal self. Enamored by the number that seems to identify him most clearly because of his birth date (07-03), being the third child in his family and the third generation of Stan in his family; the enigma slowly unravels. Truth be told, he is not working on any different levels than your standard underground cat.
Music Vibes: 5 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 5 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 5 of 10
Originally posted: October 9, 2007