When two genres of music are blended together it is difficult to predict who is going to embrace the fusion. In the case of Linkin Park, the band found pop success as their rock inspired beats and rap lyrics resonated with a youthful fan base. More often the new mixture creates its own fans that aren't particularly drawn from either genre. Groups like Kottonmouth Kings have carved out their own fan base which consumes little more than rapcore and similar hardcore content. The key for either form of success is the ability to tap into an unexploited niche. Rehab is the latest group looking to find their own place on the charts. The band has already had some success, selling 140,000 copies of their first CD and touring with the aforementioned bands. While impressive, those accomplishments were virtually nullified after the band saw a split, reformation, and five year gap between albums. Further complicating things is the fact that 2005's "Graffiti the World" is seeing it's second release in 2008 with a new label and a few more tracks.
Not being familiar with the group, I can't pinpoint what the difference between this release and the 2005 version. The group boasts a re-recording of "Bartender Song" to maximize its hit potential and a few bonus tracks thrown in for good measure. Those who already own the album will likely find iTunes a more appropriate choice to purchase the added tracks. Those curious to hear what Rehab is all about could do much worse than this mostly inoffensive blend of rock, country, and rap. The lead singer/rapper is Danny Alexander, who is the only member of the original group still around. Alexander tackles everyday life with a decent flow and penchant for story telling. The lead single, "Bartender Song," is the strongest example of his story telling skills as Alexander sing/raps a modern day version of the country blues complete with a trifling woman and a trailer park. It's not the most compelling or universal story about a broken heart, but the kind of unique and outrageous song that could find the group its audience. Danny Alexander's overall talent is better showcased on the title track where he attempts to give his humble raps a more political tone:
"You know they say hell hath no fury like a woman scorned
So vengeful, and mother Earth has been done wrong
And I think she sick, yo, she's puking up lava
Her nerves tremble along fault lines ready to drop
An entire city of filth that's been forced upon her
We built these towers of Babylon and feel remorse for nada
The momma divorced the father, the children are dropping bottles
The rich get richer, poverty's hot under the collar
Taking prayer out of schools and we trying to raise scholars
Creationism versus the theory of evolution
Air, water and mind, body and soul pollution
Kids stepping on landmines, from wars we all losing
We chasing false idols and racing from our bibles
The golden rule, the youth are becoming more suicidal
Who teaches them, you and I do, no wonder they want to fight you
Raised by hypocrites you've been lied to"
To his credit, Danny does have a gift for picking good topics and giving them his own twist. He touches on broken hearts again on "Last Tattoo" but does it through the idea of using a tattoo as symbolism for closure and a new beginning. "Red Water" tackles the idea that money doesn't guarantee happiness through a story of a successful man who commits suicide and the imagery of bathtub full of red, blood immersed water. All this is pretty compelling and controversial stuff. You really don't expect to find a group signed to a major label that's willing to touch upon such deep topics.
The problem or, quite possibly, the strength present in Rehab is the music. The music isn't bad, it's actually quite catchy, mellow, and well produced. The issue is that many times it is not what you would expect from a group tackling such heavy ideas. "Graffiti the World" has a mellow and smooth back drop that doesn't seem appropriate for a track that is essentially a call to arms. If one were to gloss over the music in "Red Water" you would think you were listening to a power ballad. "Walk Away" may be the biggest juxtaposition of music and lyrics as the happy-go-lucky beat is at odds with a story about resisting the urge to shoot your cheating wife and her lover.
For the simple music fan in me, this odd combination of music and lyrics doesn't seem right. Songs about murder and suicide should be sad and depressing. Political tracks should express a sense of urgency in the music. Rehab goes against every sense of logic the average fan has developed. Therein lies the potential strength as their willingness to play with perception and expectations might help them find their core group of fans. Rather than being different for the sake of being different, Rehab actually has structure to their chaos. "Graffiti the World" expresses a laid back approach at change, with the emphasis on story telling and discussion as opposed to action. "Walk Away" has a beat that mimics the kind of uplifting and care free attitude one would have to adopt to stay calm when faced with such an aggravating situation. The group also avoids wearing out the concept as many songs do give you what you expect. "Let ‘Em Know" doesn't pretend to be anything more than a little trash talking and has a hype beat to match. "Lawn Chair High" is meant to be background music for a chill afternoon on the front porch and serves the purpose well.
Overall, if you're in search for something a little different, a little thought provoking, but not too heavy then Rehab's "Graffiti the World" is right for you.
Music Vibes: 7 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 7 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 7 of 10
Originally posted: August 19, 2008