...there's too much of that gun-gang cliché 'our lives are hard, we're hard'.
Debra Richards 2004
In effect, D12 are Eminem's Detroit mates. Handy, if you want to make serious money. Mainly produced by, and featuring, Eminem, it gives you what you'd expect - strong beats, ironic raps and bizarre alter egos. Sadly, it also features a fair share of pathetic shock tactics and soulless noise.
The raps and music of Bizarre, Proof, Kuniva, Mr Porter and Swift are solid, but unsurprising. As they themselves say, all be it ironically, "I know how to rap, it's simple but, all I did was read a Russell Simmons' book".
That said,World features some real ear-catching tracks. "Just Like U"playsa kids' sung chorus against the voice ofa drug-using pimp, adding an unsettling edge to a cutting and nasty cautionary tale. The warped, driving guitar of Dr Dre's "American Psycho II" has a similar story to tell, while "40 0Z" reveals in graphic detail what you'll get if you cross them. Things seem pretty bleak in D12 world - bullying, gun retribution, early deaths and lost friendships - and let's not even start on what it's like for the women.
To get a lift amongst all this darkness, focus on the deadly infectious hook lines and flashes of funkiness. "I'll Be Damned", "U R The One" and Kanye West's "D-12 World" keep it juicy and moving when the sentimental sludge of "Good Die Young" or macho noise of "Git Up" get too much.
D12 can create vivid images through the rhymes, rhythms and licks. Unfortunately the ones that stick in my head are the ones that stick in my throat. There's some really disgusting stuff here, and not a sliver of enlightened thought or vision. However, the true problem with World is that, despite the parody and humour, there's too much of that gun-gang cliché 'our lives are hard, we're hard'. It feels false and dated.The Eminem association may gurantee this album's success, but as the years pass few will remember it as a classic.
Review: Debra Richards