The first thing I noticed when I read up about Big B in preparation for this review was that the record label releasing this album just signed one of my favorite bands (Crazy Town). The second thing I noticed is that Big B has yet to receive a rating higher than a 6.5 from a Rapreviews staff member. The third thing I noticed is that Big B has a long history in the genre of rap-rock. These three things may seem irrelevant to one another, but they are significant to me personally, because I have a great deal of respect for the staff of Rapreviews.com and their viewpoints, my favorite musical outfit of all time, 311, are rap rock royalty, and Crazy Town were one of my earliest musical influences. So, I guess you can say that I was intrigued by this album before I had even listened to it, and had somewhat predetermined what I was about to experience. One glance at the cover art of "Good Times and Bad Advice" provides a pretty good inkling into what you're about to hear when you listen to it. I personally haven't listened to that many portly, tattooed white guys with thick beards that ride motorcycles, but I'd be willing to assume they'd probably sound a lot like Big B does. Well, sufficed to say, I went into this album expecting something, and I got what I expected, except much better than I expected and done with a lot more integrity than I would've predicted.
The album kicks off with "Yesterday", produced by Jim Perkins, which immediately brings up memories of Kid Rock's "Devil Without a Cause" in terms of overall sound. It's kind of like country music, except with more "bang" than "twang". It's basically the typical upbeat, party-ready anthem with the "life sucks, but fuck it" theme that has been done time and time again. Big B puts a unique spin on it though, and I particularly appreciate how real he's keeping it when rapping the consequences of the life he leads:
"2 PM, half the day gone
Thinking to myself "I need to get my grub on"
Like a little kid I moonwalk to the fridge
And in my luck there ain't shit inside
But some spoiled milk and some ketchup (man what the fuck!)
Open up the cupboards and they're bare too
Oh please! Oh please! Tell me what this fat boy's supposed to do
I wrecked my car, last week I got a D.U.I.
They took away my license, and now I can't drive
My P.O. checks me every week, and I can't get high
Man, sometimes I don't even know why I try.."
Immediately following "Yesterday" is the lead single, "Before I Leave This Place" featuring Everlast on the hook. It's not quite as enjoyable as the former, but Big B does turn out a decent performance lyrically:
"Little Tommy enlisted in the Army
Even though he'd never been away from his mommy
Said he wanted to see the world
Tell his family and friends "goodbye," gave a big kiss to his girl
Now he's off to boot camp, never did much with his life...
But now here's his big chance
He sits and shines his shoes and creases his pants
He knows his weapon inside and out
His parents warn him of the risk of war
But he acts like they don't know what they're talking about
Sent out to combat on the front line
Ready to die, with a tear in his eye
He says: God, I didn't realize that it would end like this"
Three of the strongest tracks on the album take place before you reach the half way point, the pleasant "For Tonight", rollicking "I Fucked Up Again", and "Live Your Life" featuring Glasses Malone. However after the latter track, the album slips into cruise control. The beats rarely rise above or fall below par, and Big B doesn't deviate from his persona for one second. Other than "Out Here in Cali", produced by Jim Perkins, the second half of the album is more of the same of what you hear in the first half. One could argue that a little variety would have worked to Big B's benefit, but I guess it all depends on personal preference. Big B sounds very comfortable with his overall sound, and while it may not be for everyone, or even the average rap enthusiast, I have heard far worse than this. If you prefer a little more instrumentation in beats, and a little more fun in your rap you may enjoy this album more than you would the standard fare in 2010's hip hop music. There is no doubt in my mind that Big B is a talented performer, with his own distinct take on the art form, nor do I feel as though he has any less of a right to make rap music than the grand majority of the rappers you hear on the radio every day. He certainly is not the most lyrically gifted, or technically outstanding rapper to ever do it, but he has big personality, and a charm to him that warrants at least a few repeat listens. Whether or not you have a good time listening to "Good Times and Bad Advice", or consider this review to be bad advice is entirely up to you, the reader. All I would advise is that you listen with an open mind, and you may be pleasantly surprised.
Music Vibes: 7 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 7 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 7 of 10
Originally posted: October 19, 2010