Monday, November 23, 2009

A Second Look At Custom Cars & Cycles

A week after Rick Ross' Triple C's group dropped their debut album, I gave it a brief review.  Immediately following, the first week sales figures were released, from which it would be hard to consider the album anything but a flop.  Sales figures never influence my opinion of an album, but considering the stature of both the label and the headlining artist, I had to consider whether quality actually was the reason it received such a poor reception.

I've been listening to the album almost daily for the past three weeks and I'm convinced people aren't giving it enough credit.  It has crept its way into my top 15 albums of the year, somewhere alongside DOOM's Born Like This.  Yes, that last sentence was designed to aggravate every possible reader, but it's true.  I was watching a promotional clip for the album and one of the members (I can't really put names to their faces yet) was giving the usual spiel about how good every single song was, and I found myself agreeing.  There really isn't any filler on the album, which with fifteen tracks is pretty admirable.  I have favorites and I skip around, but you can let the album ride out without ever feeling the need to fast-forward.  The album also has more dimensions than most have been suggesting, and the group jumps between styles with ease.  Yes, the lyrics are at times as ostentatious as any from the shiny suit era, but there is plenty of depth to be found.  Take (I think) Young Breed's verse on "Finer Things:"

A wad of money, not a lotta money
most on the weed, just a broken dream
tryina come up sellin' somethin'
 buyin' somethin', tryin' somethin'
inside I'm sufferin', outside I'm stuntin'
I'm bout mine, I'm thumpin'
till God bring out the trumpet
Barack just a puppet
but no one listens to junkies
and no one hires a flunky

But I suppose my point isn't to validate my enjoyment of this album.  I fully acknowledge that I may be crazy, and the Triple C's do not warrant a second look from most rap listeners.  But my taste is generally pretty good and I have suspicions that this album undersold for other reasons.

I was inspired to rediscuss this album following the lower than expected sales of 50 Cent's new Before I Self Destruct.  I think part of the poor showing for both of the albums might have been from the Curtis/Ross beef that started earlier this year.  It wasn't high-profile enough to draw outside attention and increase album sales, but it got heated enough to get ugly and become polarizing for fans.  I'm willing to bet there are a number of fans who would have purchased both albums a year ago, but will now only support one or the other.  I think this is especially true in the case of Ross, who occasionally ended up looking like a jackass.  I historically haven't paid much attention to either artist so I don't have a dog in this fight.  However, this particular feud helped nobody.

An even bigger issue may have been the earlier revelation that Rick Ross spent time as a Correctional Officer before his rap career took flight, indicating that the lifestyle he claims in his music is more than likely fictional.  In a culture that claims to value keeping it real above all else, and has a general disdain towards law enforcement, Ross' CO past was not a good look.  Anybody with more than a basic knowledge of this rap thing will tell you that a sizable portion of artists are at the very least embellishing their involvement in criminal activities, if not wholly crafting characters for themselves.  However, the continued presence of artists who clearly are authentic complicates the situation and probably increases anger towards those who are found to be playing a role.  One has to wonder if Rock Ross would have been accepted if he had made it clear from the start that he was simply crafting stories.  But that is another conversation.

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