This review has two objectives.
First, I just got Nas’ newest and I want to unofficially revise my best of 2006 list, putting “Hip Hop Is Dead” in a tie with Dilla’s “Donuts” for the top spot.
Now onto that other business. I won’t be coy about it and waste your time: “The Greatest Show on Earth” proves once again to this cynical consumer that you should never believe a product’s claims. A more accurate title might be: “Some Show in Chicago that isn’t Terribly Interesting.” Read on if you need further details.
The problem with Trump Tight’s music isn’t a matter of competency (they execute their tired tropes quite efficiency, actually), or even a matter of conviction (it frequently sounds as if they sincerely believe in the generic lyrics). Rather, the onus of Trump Tight’s secure place in mediocrity lies in strict adherence to a Hip Hop sub-genre that has long since become uninspired. And in an art form built on finding the freshest way to express what you must express, the medium really can be the message. So by using broad strokes to paint by the numbers lyrics of the gangsta/playa/hustla variety, and including every stale attribute of this (not so-)classic rap stereotype, Trump Tight makes it inherently difficult to be original. It’s like sitting through the recently-released Stomp the Yard, a film so reliant on well-worn Hollywood formulas (street-smart, fish-out-of-water, gifted but troubled underdog defeats snooty rivals and finds redemption through art), that bringing anything new to the table becomes next to impossible. Some folk still might be satisfied, then, with another album of the same old (after all, it must sell if they keep pumping it). But for many of us, it takes more than technical competency to get excited these days, and the last thing we need is another faceless genre exercise in a genre that is beyond stale.
There’re a few notable digressions worth mentioning. The hooks are uniformly inane, including this nugget of lyric poetry: “From the South side/to the North side/to the East side/to the West side/Let’s ride” (repeat). Intelligently as vapid as crunk but delivered without the energy to create infectiousness, they become merely stupid. Even worse is that the above chant accurately sums up the entire song’s content. And then there are the other sins: lazy misogyny, nihilism without the charisma to pull it off, and a perplexing attempt at social commentary that intersperses pro-Black speech samples with rhymes virtually identical to the usual subject matter.
Trump Tight no doubt has a solid following locally, and I’m not knocking those folks. They never embarrass themselves on the mic or the boards. But they also never rise above the level of anonymous club music. The recipe: 1 part booming bass, 1 part 808, 3 parts flossing and pimp-talk, and a dash of tuneless hooks. Mix well. Results may vary, but don’t count on it.