With the Power of Zeus by his side, Obie Trice sent a message to the rap world. “All I want is what’s mine – I don’t care who I hurt!” Unfortunately since that message was broadcast on the HBO series Entourage a lot of people probably didn’t hear it. I’m not knocking the show – in fact I enjoy the hell out of it. It’s a funny and smart look at what happens when you blow up famous overnight and take your best friends along for the ride to fame and fortune. Despite being about four white boys in Hollywood the show has a surprising amount of hip-hop saavy, as one of the recurring storylines is about the “Turtle” character becoming Saigon’s manager in a fast rising hip-hop career. As such is no surprise that Entourage got dibs on Obie Trice’s “Wanna Know,” the first song leaked off his long awaited sophomore album “Second Round’s on Me.” Do the math though – take the number of people who have cable, multiply that by the percent that have HBO, multiply that again by the percent who watch Entourage, and then AGAIN by the number of people watching Entourage who are hip-hop heads. Suddenly getting “Wanna Know” into an episode of the show really doesn’t mean much for Obie Trice’s career.

You don’t have to worry about Trice though. He’s the poster boy for Eminem’s Cheers” back in 2003. You might at first believe that 50 Cent was the top man on Shady Records and you’d be right – he’s the top SELLING artist under that imprint. 50 is a man seeking his own empire though with G-Unit, who are both his crew and his own record label to distribute them. Trice on the other hand is as close as kin to Eminem – hailing from Detroit (okay so Em wasn’t born there but he still calls it home) and so well connected to D12 that Proof had a daughter by his first cousin (R.I.P. Proof). 50 may get all the attention for his fame and his beefs, but Obie is the loyal soldier paying his dues and working to get his shine. 50’s style was well developed before ever signing with Shady/Aftermath, while Obie sounds highly influenced by Eminem given their penchant for versatile flows and occasionally over-the-top humor. That’s not to say Trice is in any way an Eminem clone – pretty hard to be when one guy’s black and the other’s white anyway – but if anybody can successfully step into the void vacated by Em’s quasi-retirement it’s Obie. Need evidence to support this claim? Look no further than “Cry Now”:

“Hip-Hop’s my fate, since cassette tapes
I’ve embraced what you know of, as this nigga’s culture
Put it in a chokehold, spoke as a soldier (soldier)
Yet you provoke him to pull up out his holster
Leave you wit a visible ulcer, ogle off ya
Niggaz alter what he lyrically offers
All cause he salty, I’m rollin like a boss
I don’t follow nigga’s course, I’m awkward
My choice, Rock City is my voice
The white boy stepped down, so I will accept the crown
Exceptional however, never let ya down
Found my new niche, no more bricks
So I’m pitchin 16’s, verbally bitch”

With production by Witt and Pep and a calm composed flow that states his position without backing down from any adversaries, Obie lays claim to a newfound level of fame. Obie can be a funny dude, but he’s not soft. Step out of line and you may find yourself in the crosshairs of his Eminem-produced track “Kill Me a Mutha”:

“Now I don’t wanna come across as a boss some type of mafia
But these are my thoughts, they awful, I won’t argue with ya
But see, I got a cause a clause, that I live by
Keep the heater close because I don’t want to die
You see I’m from Detroit where they dump ’em off in coffins
And often there’s assorted men where bullets holes departed him
And I don’t want no parts of them, crazy complications
So I keep the heater cocked up in case of confrontation
And I would just be fakin if I said I wouldn’t erase him
If he blatantly, tried to take away God’s creation
I’ll kill me a muh’fucker”

Remember that I said Trice was versatile? Obie’s also got songs for the club, like the thumping Trill sound of “All of My Life” featuring Nate Dogg:

“You know a nigga wanna touch your body
We can keep in touch, have an afterparty
Know you wanna fuck cause you’re actin naughty
You see us in the matress probably (ha)
Want to be involved cause the +Entourage+ I’m endorsed in
Say you love my dirty drawers, you’re all in
Wanna sleep with the star, be baby mom
Eat lob-ster, see where you’re comin from
Cause hey, that nigga got dick for days
And ain’t too many niggaz blessed in those ways
I guess, I just get better with old age”

It’s fair to say that he does, because in his three years off the flows got more polished and the rhymes got a little bit tighter. There’s plenty of material that could blow up easily on the radio here, yet none of it sounds forced or like Obie’s playing false and going outside what put him on the map. Trey Songz is as much a natural choice to croon on “Ghetto” as Akon is to call a snitch a “Snitch.” Eminem takes a light hand and makes sure the spotlight stays on Obie, only making a cameo on “There They Go”; likewise 50 Cent shows his support on “Everywhere I Go” but doesn’t dominate this CD. (It’s a shame G-Unit couldn’t figure out this formula when putting out Mobb Deep.) By the heartfelt J.R. Totem produced closing track “Obie Story,” how could you not be feeling this man? It’s not a perfect album and Obie has yet to exercise the full potential that Eminem sees in him, but there’s really very little here you can hate. Trice just wants what’s his but buying this album really isn’t gonna hurt you at all.

Obie Trice :: Second Round's on Me
8.5Overall Score