Origino’s a glass-half-full kind of guy. In a world where every other rapper would have you believe he’s the next John Gotti, an album centered around personal growth and looking towards the bright side is certainly a change of pace. If this sounds like a refreshing alternative, you’ve been deceived. You know the one “introspective” track on every other Wu-Tang affiliate album? That’s “Leave the Ground Behind,” only it’s worse. A lot worse.

As a rapper he’s certainly not bad. His deep, syrupy voice is only further complimented by an ability to switch up tempo at whim, speeding it up Bone Thugs style a number of times throughout the album. In fact on the unfortunately titled “Reasons, Seasons and Lifetimes,” I was sure at first that Bizzy Bone had a guest feature. As a lyricist, Chris Farley played a better motivational speaker on Saturday Night Live.

You can’t help but respect that his idea of “Bulletproof” is maintaining a certain state of mind, and not strapping on a twenty-five pound vest, but when the indie market is edgier than ever and commercial rap the same old shtick, “Leave the Ground Behind” is a hard sell. As such, Origino can’t help but come off as corny, while his song concepts are a couple steps shy of kids’ public television.

It isn’t a particularly religious record, but it sure is kosher. Cursing is kept to a bare minimum, and trash talking is almost non-existent. Even the album cover, which depicts a boy on a swing under a peaceful blue sky, is born-again Christian type of thing you’d expect out of a late 90’s Mase. The overall vibe is…nice. The intentionally inspirational title track is line-for-line what could conceivably go for the commercial between The Magic School Bus and Sesame Street. In talking about how he wants to spend the rest of his life with his girl on “She Told Me,” he walks a fine line between Usher and Backstreet Boy. There is such a thing as being overly sympathetic…

Conversely, when he takes his stab at a “You Don’t Want None” track, it’s pathetically weak, resulting in charming lines like “drama bringing trauma like Osama’s pajamas with Saddam’s nut stains on him riding each other like llamas.” Yeah. “Take it Out On Me,” with its “I ain’t your punching bag” pleas, is a bit too emo, but even better is the “She Told Me” interlude, as we’re treated to two minutes of opera singing.

The beats do little to make amends, as they’re weak from end to end. When sampling, the producers often do a great job piecing the loops together (the title track in particular), but the percussion is cheap and the lack of bass is noticeable. “These Hands,” with a backdrop suitable for the happiest of Disney movie endings, is perhaps the corniest thing to hit hip-hop since the Super Bowl Shuffle.

Origino provides a shoulder to cry on, acknowledges that “this world can be beautiful but brutal,” and discusses sticks and stones (literally), but “Leave the Ground Behind” is definitely not emo. It’s just really soft. Maybe he’s just sensitive.

Origino :: Leave the Ground Behind
4Overall Score