Identical :: Welcome ta INKSTA :: Neighborhood Music
as reviewed by Tom Doggett

I really hate rap music. Don't get me wrong, I mostly adore it and devote most of my free time to it, but there are certain things about the music and the culture that I absolutely can't stand. First off, there is the inherent basis for most rap, the ego. You know, the name calling, shit talking invincible swagger that your favorite rapper just might rely on a bit too much. Even the best can't get away with this all the time, and when they gloat and brag it is done in a manner as to separate them from the rest. As for the others…believe me, they still try.

Part two of my rant goes like this: There are so many damn clichés that get tossed around constantly that even the more creative versions of these clichés lose meaning. A sample from the hook of the bonus track on this very album reads "them hoes still jock us, cause we don't give a fuck, the feds still watch us, cause we don't give a fuck." Now, aside from the nifty rhyme that the duo Identical has crafted, I simply don't see the point of such a statement. They have conveyed these sentiments throughout the album in various ways, and they have done so in mostly dull ways. This happens all the time. Seriously, 50 Cent has gotten away with the same things because he has a cool voice, some charisma, and the Good Doctor lends a hand, but I fail to understand why so many others try to duplicate this. I recognize that these things are realities to some, but just because you live it doesn't mean you need to record it, especially in such a bland fashion as "Welcome ta INKSTA."

The sad thing is, aside from the novelty of a rap group consisting of identical twins, these two are far from mediocre rappers in a technical sense. They both have a firm grasp of the beat, and although neither has an outstanding voice, they can command the mic with sufficient conviction. They don't really appear to have separate names, which is odd, but in this sense they are truly a group that is defined by their collective music rather than individual parts. The problem with this is that they seem literally identical, and it is hard to differentiate between them. Hailing from Detroit, and still frequently spelling out their original name of Hostile, the subject matter mostly varies only between guns and drug dealing, with plenty of overlapping. The opening "Inkstaz Illest" features an intriguing, low-key guitar loop, but they can't snap out of a stereotypical frame of mind that consists of punchlines like "you can't see me like a blind man's sight." One amusing line, "I call the judge Morris Day, look how he playing with time" breaks the otherwise consistent monotony of nondescript rhymes they are packing. Identical is a perfect name because there is nothing that separates them from anyone else kicking bland hustle raps from any other city in the Union. A song or two of this uniform subject matter would have been acceptable, even intriguing, but almost the entire album is about their hustling, and they aren't telling stories or even providing scintillating details. I don't really know what else to say.

The production is mostly laced by Hollow, with two tracks built by A.C. The music resembles the rhymes closely, with confidently heavy bass and mechanical drum kicks. "Stranded" is faster than the rest, so it stands out, as does "N DA Streets" because of a disproportionate level of melody. On the whole, though, I am not compelled by any of the music here. In fact, "Money Don't Sleep," with its combination of dangerously low bass and an agreeable background piano loop, is probably the best beat on the record, and it comes at the very end. Everything is professional, and could possibly pass for dope regional music, except that there is nothing unique at all about any of the songs. There are choice moments of introspection, but they are presented in a similarly confrontational manner as the rest of the music. I get plenty of music to write about that I truly dislike, and this is not the case with "Welcome ta INKSTA." I can ignore it with ease, and the production values and the emcees are not bad, but I simply am not drawn to it at all. The most attractive part of the album is the intensely low bass, which thumps enough to merit attention. I don't listen to rap music for the bass, though, and the rest of the elements that are brought together here are purely average.

The hook to "Do Sumin" incites the listener to "cop sumin (something), pop sumin, drink sumin, spill sumin, roll sumin, light sumin, smoke sumin, snort sumin, chew sumin, hit sumin, bang sumin, slang sumin…," and the list goes on. This epitomizes my problem with this record. I simply don't understand what the point of all of this is. I can't really say anything about the lifestyle this record is advertising, because much of my favorite rap music does the same. When it is done in such a lazy, half-assed way, however, I just can't deal with it. There are people who may like this record for what it is, but I can't imagine anyone throwing this in heavy rotation, even in their car with the system bumping.

Music Vibes: 5 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 5 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 5 of 10

Originally posted: November 29, 2005