Artist: Guilty Simpson
With Ode to the Ghetto Guilty Simpson offers the listener a ride through his Detroit ‘hood. Simpson claimed his record would have substance as opposed to the typical battle style rhymes people are used to hearing from him. Amid tracks like the intro funk-guitar riveting “American Dream”, the title track “Ode to the Ghetto” and “The Real Me” he proves to be a man of his word. For all the substance he gives to the album he still doesn’t shy away from his bread and butter, with confrontational lyrics and heavy ridden baselines that seem to advocate violence. Ode to the Ghetto is truly a structured stanzaic poem that’s a solid addition to the Guilty Simpson anthology.
The intro “American Dream” is a classic tale of an anonymous teen that becomes desperate under the pressures of the ghetto while striving for success and finds it in the crack game. After a few tracks you find a semi-continuation of the initial track glorifying drug sales, murder and an admiration of the daily grind over a catchy base and appealing chorus. After a walk around parallel corners it seems Guilty brings us back to the same corner with his 1st single “Getting Bitches”. “Getting Bitches” sounds ironically like “Footwork” just with piano tinkles and R&B vocals as the chorus. The redundancy doesn’t stop there. After a walk past the “Pigs” and a peek into his personal life (“I must love you”) it seems as if we’re back on the same corner, with the same baseline and annoyingly simplistic rhyme scheme in “My Moment”. Although with these tracks Guilty creates the substance he wants, he overly repeats and states that substance. The subject matter and baseline were equivalent to “All work no play makes Jack a dull boy” in “The Shining”
Albeit much of the music is redundant GS still shows off the brandish wit that made him a staple in the Detroit hip-hop scene. On “Pigs” Simpson follows in an N.W.A. motif and creates Detroit’s own “Fuck the Police”. With lyrics like “when I see the boys in blue I feel like a blood” it’s not astonishing to find he was a J. Dilla protégé. Guilty’s abrasive lyricism shines on “Yikes”. Simpson raps “Mic, You don’t wanna fight my sales I’m on a Rampage when you act Chuck Liddell/ Snakes send text threats to my cell, Fuck ‘em I respond back LOL”. After a few listens you realize this is when Guilty is at his best, just churning out the punch lines while delivering them effortlessly over his often recycled baselines. Its obvious Simpson is a much better punch line rapper than he is a substance rapper but his attempt to round himself is admirable.
Simpson writes an ode to his own ghetto and not an ode to the ghetto’s of America re-running and back peddling through the same blocks, corners and alleys others have explored before him. This album doesn’t bring anything new to light or show why he is different from other up-coming rappers talking of the same subject matter. Ode to the Ghetto would be a must purchase if he came out in 1989. Since this is 2008 legally download tracks “American Dream”, “Pigs”, “Yikes” and stream “She Won’t Stay Home”.