ALBUM REVIEW: Respect The Fly Shit

Meyhem Lauren - "Respect The Fly Shit"
(Internet; 2012)

Weed carriers, perhaps more so than any other demographic, deserve to benefit from the soft bigotry of low expectations. Second fiddle endeavors always work better as supplements to what their more prominent counterparts have already established than launching pads for autonomous careers. Within these cushioned parameters, Respect The Fly Shit delivers wholeheartedly, as it stands on the shoulders of Big Twins' Project Kid, Teflon's My Will, and countless other notable subordinate efforts hailing from the Empire State.

Meyhem Lauren's flow is loosely derivative of his Queens forebear Cormega. His aggressive delivery rarely meshes with instrumentals, and usually floats clumsily over tracks oblivious of tempo, oscillating on and off-beat. While Cormega offset his awkward style with unrivaled sincerity, Meyhem relies on hysterical deadpan humor imagine Psycho Les ghostwriting for a flustered King Sun. Many of the album's most endearing moments are brought courtesy of that expressionless satire. Somewhere between introducing himself as Monogram Meyhem, abandoning Dun Language for Dad Vernacular, and breaking into impromptu ODB-esque monologues detailing "sweet dick sucks", Lauren shows flashes of a fairly charming and likable personality. But those moments are so transient you can blink and miss out entirely.

Meyhem surprisingly holds up his end of the bargain, but the album's success still hinges on its supporting cast. The top tier guests leave absolutely nothing to be desired. Action Bronson somersaults into moving vehicles, Roc Marciano auditions for The Firm, and Riff Raff adds to the ever-expanding spectrum of Dro-isms ("honey mustard Caravan lookin' like a spray tan"). The dozen or so less dynamic contributions are hit or miss, but even lethargic performances from Sean Price and Thirstin Howl serve as tolerable distractions that prevent Meyhem from wearing out his welcome. The beats, handled exclusively by Tommy Mas and Harry Fraud, feature dated filtering techniques that even Illmatic's legendary production troupe has long abandoned. Fortunately, at least as it pertains to revivalism, execution is king. The duo convey an intangible element of authenticity that contemporaries like 9th Wonder and Statik Selektah have always lacked.

In 2012, critics have irresponsibly lobbed the term "throwback" at New York natives Ka and Joey Bada$$, without recognizing Grief Pedigree would have been considered uniquely minimalist in any era, or that 1999 is the brainchild of a burgeoning artist several years younger than Street Fighter II Turbo. But Respect the Fly Shit is this year's first rap album to genuinely capture those romanticized days of yore. It's obviously not a game changing record, but rather an enjoyable extension of Action Bronson's blossoming catalog. As long as Meyhem Lauren is content with middle management under the Outdoorsmen umbrella, his solo efforts will certainly be worth checking for.

    4 comments:

    1. The irony here is that Bronson actually started out as Meyhem's weed carrier, more or less. When Meyem first started getting some notice after showing up on J-Love mixtapes (well predating earliest mentions of NY a revival by some time btw), Bronson would pop up in his videos and in features on Meyhem songs (Swiss Alps for example.) But Meyhem never really capitalized on that early exposure nor captured the public's attention like Bronson did, and they ended up trading places.

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    2. That's pretty crazy. I imagine there's been a lot of role reversals over the years. I actually may like this album as much or even more than any Bronson project thus far.

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