The biggest thing that distinguishes rapper/sanger/producer 88-Keys is his willingness to experiment with different genres of music. To tell the truth, at first I thought this would be a very strange review to do on nappyafro given 88-Keys’ lack of a friendly label (Hip-Hop, Rap, soul, R&B…). But 88 has produced for Mos Def, Consequence, Talib Kweli and The Pharcyde. He also has features from Kanye, Kid Cudi, Phonte, and Redman. He fits the genre folks, don’t dismiss him from the get-go. That was never the primary concern for me though. I’ve never been a fan of concept songs: “I Gave You Power”, “Gotta Eat”, “A Friendly Game Of Baseball”…and less supportive of concept albums: The Cool, ATLiens, Deltron 3030. For those that have given this album a listen, and didn’t really have a clue what they were listening to, here’s a brief summary of the storyline: Adam (the main character), is your typical guy searching for sex anywhere he can find it. Adam meets a dime, dates her, and is shot down when he tries to take it to the next level (I can identify there, I won’t front). Then Adam moves from the ex-girl to the next girl, who he finds in a nightclub apparently. This is where it got confusing. They have sex, but Adam can’t please her, but they stay together still until Adam’s life comes to an end… The Death Of Adam. Sounds a little lame to me too, but let’s give it a spin.
1. Morning Wood Produced by 88-Keys
Ehh. I can’t recommend listening to this track. Just all-around lame. And not in a late 70’s start of Hip-hop sense either. Lame as in you’re trying way too hard and it shows.
2. Nice Guys Finish Last Produced by 88-Keys
Much better. I was really feeling the recording process on this track, 88 Keys somehow altered his own voice so it sounds like he recorded his verse through a phone or something. Sounds like “Who Shot Ya”. I was also feeling the beat and the “nice” vocal sample as 88 sprinkles some knowledge throughout his story.
3. The Friends Zone Featuring Shitake Monkey; Produced by 88 -Keys
If your looking for some indie rock mixed with soft pop this is probably your shit, but I wasn’t feeling it at all. At all!
4. Handcuff ‘Em Produced by 88-Keys
The beat was nice. The lyrics were somewhat nice. By this point in time, I’ve noticed that 88 Keys and Charles Hamilton are one and the same. The song was good if you want to just kick back and take in the sound, but once I started listening to the songs message it seemed mad corny. Like “Ms. Officer” off Tha Carter 3. And the metaphors keep on coming!
5. Stay Up (Viagra) Featuring Kanye West; Produced by 88-Keys
Great instrumental here. The Death Of Adam and 808’s & Heartbreak seem to be sister albums, categorized as Hip-Hop but containing a lot more singing than rhyming. By the way, Kanye blows here (no surprise), and his Borat reference had me cringing… really ‘Ye… really? On the real though, this instrumental could carry the whole album because it is amazing.
6. There’s Pleasure In It Produced by 88-Keys
This one is nothing more than an beat; this song would be an interlude on any other album besides this one. I wasn’t feeling this beat as much as the previous one, mainly because it was made around a moaning sample (F for creativity). Swap the instrumentals in the two previous tracks and you could have had a good song.
7. (Awww Man) Round 2? Produced by 88-Keys
Seven songs in and I’m on the verge of falling asleep. Good instrumental and terrible lyricism again… SKIP! Learn how to rhyme homie, or just stick to producing.
8. Dirty Peaches Featuring J’Davey; Produced by 88-Keys
R&B track. No, average R&B track. Don’t really remember how it sounded because it was so generic.
9. Close Call Featuring Phonte; Produced by 88-Keys
It takes nappyafro favorite Phonte to really conjure up a verse deserving of 88-Keys superb production. The first two minutes of this track are the best of the whole album, after the first two minutes it goes downhill.
10. The Burning Bush Featuring Redman; Produced by 88-Keys
So Redman becomes Adam for this skit/song, and goes to the doctor’s office because he caught an STD. I love Redman, but his three verses seem forced here, following a pretty consistent theme for guest features.
11. Ho’ Is Short For Honey Featuring Kid Cudi; Produced by 88-Keys
I’m not a Cudi fan at all. But there’s something catchy about this track, but nothing that would make me repeat it. I do admire his rhyme schemes though and the sampling here. Something to this track, you might have to check it out… maybe.
12. No. I Said I LIKED You Produced by 88-Keys
I forgot to mention that there has been a girl telling the story at the end of every song. This track they don’t put her at the end, instead just giving her the spotlight. Easy skip for me.
13. M.I.L.F. Featuring Bilal; Produced by 88-Keys
This is another soft R&B track. Nice beat, nice singing. Still kind of ehh…
14. Another Victim Produced by 88 Keys
And we’re done! Nothing more to say about this song, other than it feels like the clock hitting 5 o’clock on a Friday. I’m glad to be done.
There’s a difference between Shawty LO and 88 Keys. Even though I have a hard time listening to both of them, I can’t hate on 88. This wasn’t my type of album, but I can’t give it a really low rating based on my distaste for the album. At least 88 is trying; a lot more than many artists can say for themselves.