The name Slaughterhouse, combined with the unfortunate “hung pig” art adorning the album, may elicit unintended comparisons to the unfortunate “horrorcore” phenomenon of the early ’90s. But the opening sample of the album — a collaboration between Joe Budden, Crooked I, Joell Ortiz, and Royce Da 5’9”– doesn’t seem to be cribbed from a Vincent Price; it actually compares the four contributing rappers to Voltron. Other than an ill-conceived line about Ortiz being a cannibal, Slaughterhouse sidesteps the general silliness of trying to rap horror lyrics and falls into a totally different well. Slaughterhouse, despite the varied viewpoints of its contributors, ends up sounding utterly forgettable. Though each artist has moments of inspiration during the album, they are more than overshadowed by the tired posing, easy allusions and formulaic production present on the disc.
Although hip-hop has its own canon for references, there is no reason for the artists to be stuck irrevocably in the ’90s. When a line referencing Die Hard is dropped into the middle of “Microphone,” it pulls back the curtain on the façade of this collaboration. Every one of these rappers have had their moments of success, and they, though not as far in the past as Die Hard, exist in a time when rap was dominated by angry, ominous posing and unprovoked swagger.
The game has moved on from this point, but Slaughterhouse seems blissfully unaware, spitting rhymes about guns and bitches and padding the disc with filler skits. These are themes and devices that have been explored to their fullest potential and for the most part in more interesting ways by other artists. The hope would be that the four artists as a unit would actually be able, as promised, to create something more interesting or perhaps subvert expectations based on their solo work. Instead, they choose to remain well within their comfort zone, rendering Slaughterhouse a largely unsatisfying experience.