Great producers waste perfectly good beats on mediocre emcees all the time. So why does a perfectly good emcee such as O.C. have to scrape the bottom of the barrel when he's looking for backing?
Last year's Starchild was a solid effort from the underground veteran, though the record's exposure was hindered by its inability to find distribution in the United States. But the real weakness there was the beats, and they're even worse on Smoke and Mirrors. There is barely a worthwhile track among the lot here, and some are positively unbearable, with lots of chugging, repetitive riffs and pseudo-hard-rock guitar chords.
Lyrically, it's not O.C.'s best performance, but he is a strong enough rapper that the real tragedy is having to hear him settle for this kind of record. Produced almost entirely by Mike Lowe, this is a major disappointment. There are occasional worthwhile tracks lyrically, such as "Shorty," which may be the only hip-hop song about avoiding young girls. But even this is nearly unlistenable. O.C. once again finds himself on the cusp of critical acclaim, but it's not his skills that are holding him back. It's his inability to find decent collaborators.
Prefix review: O.C. [Starchild] by Matthew Gasteier:
Hieroglyphics Web site: http://hieroglyphics.com/
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