Continuing the unofficial "Winter of Detroit Hip-Hop" on RapReviews.com are the Stereo Boyz, consisting of Mixo (aka Applauze Beetz), Mic Audio (aka Perfect Hell) and Kid Boombox. The members were previously part of a collective called Rhyme Asylum but split off to release a group album on their own, though it's presumed to be an amicable split. The only people that the Stereo Boyz seem to have any beef with are inferior acts that don't take the craft of making rap music seriously. They waste no time calling out those rappers and producers on the opening track of "Live from the Ghettoblaster" and pull no punches about it, saying that the rap scene has become a "Circus Act" full of clowns:
"Now a top hat and glasses are fashion for whackness
we call backpacks and reverse sweater baggage
Short arms can't bang like the crowd can
Applauze Beetz knock brains out while sprayin
I spot the heavy ones, with cow legs
My upper floor tank is what made her come downstairs
You'd better pay attention to Jesus
It even cost to hear, henchmen deceive fools
Look like a pimp and a preacher on Easter
In pre-school, no bling, didn't need jewels"
Their disdain is self-evident, what they offer as an alternative somewhat less so. Decrying other aspects of hip-hop as being the ruin of the genre is far more fashionable than backpacks and reversible sweaters. If it's not the East coast blaming the West coast, the South blaming the North, the indie rappers blaming the mainstream stars, or any vice versa or combination thereof, then it's all of the above blaming the internet. It's safe to say there's no shortage of scapegoats, and it's easy to light the firepit and put them on a spit to barbecue. What the Stereo Boyz need to offer is not just recrimination but a genuine next level of musical and lyrical talent that does hip-hop better than those they rally against. Unfortunately their single "Get it In" offers more admonishments:
"No I don't understand and no I don't get it
How niggaz with no class, have honor roll credits
Mic Audio said it best, real talk
They'll forget, where they came from, and won't feel last
Our ink pens spill art, masterpiece verses
Our rap books hang behind gallery curtains"
I can't help but feel that's a little audacious given they are only a few mixtapes and this free EP into their solo career. Searching "Live from the Ghettoblaster" for signs of gallery art to display next to Rakim, Aceyalone and Chuck D only leaves the listener wanting for something that's not there. There's certainly some quality music to be found on this release. "What U Sayin" featuring Sound Clipse rocks a brassy horn backdrop that shores up the raps nicely, whether they're all time great masterpieces or not. S.C. also guests on the electronic "And the Beat Goes," which is the first Stereo Boyz song which genuinely sounds different from the same old same other rappers are doing. The gothic piano and timpani backdrop of "Fried Bro" works well in the intro, though eventually the loop breaks down, and closer scrutiny reveals it's just another song about getting high as fuck. Still for this EP at least the track's a winner.
Too often the Stereo Boyz product is simplistic musically and lyrically, such as on "LOL," which has the unintentional irony of not being the least bit funny. That's true of the entire "Live from the Ghettoblaster" album, a release which is no doubt earnest and sincere in its effort to not only showcase the Stereo Boyz but to be different from the norm. The problem is that even when they succeed, they fail. "Gunman" samples from what could be a musical about the Wild West, but the braggadocious raps and boastful taunts like "better be strapped with grenades to try and stop us" are just the same as every other tough talking rap act. Still I will give the Stereo Boyz some credit for rocking the NES beats on their "Metal Gear Solid" bonus track. Admittedly flipping video games is not original either, but on this song at least they do it well, and it actually lengthens the album enough for me to consider it more LP than EP. Still at the end of the day if the Stereo Boyz want to really prove they're better than the "Circus Act" full of clowns they so detest, they've got to showcase next level beats and rhymes next time that back it up.
Music Vibes: 5 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 5 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 5 of 10
Originally posted: February 1st, 2011