|Qwazaar: Walk Thru Walls
(2001, Frontline) CD: $13.50 @ The HHI Store
|One of the drawbacks of being in a group becomes especially evident when you
decide to go solo: you will not only be judged against to your previous efforts,
but almost certainly your partner's accomplishments as well. Typical Cats'
Qwel and Qwazaar have released their albums within such a short period that
comparisons between the two are inescapable. Yet while Qwel delivered what
was expected from him with If it Ain't Been in a Pawnshop..., Qwazaar's Walk
Thru Walls is a bit more inconsistent all around, and perhaps a slight
letdown with his stellar previous showings in mind.
The production on Walk Thru Walls is handled by the team of Insomnitracks,
which consists of Lousy Bastard, O-Type Star, Alo, Chauncie Gardner, Chester
Copperpat, and JDoubleU. In reality, however, most of the members
contribute only one beat each, while Chauncie Gardner is responsible for well
over half of the tracks, and Lousy Bastard grinds out four pieces. The
greater part of the production is commendable, with tight if generic drum
programming, and atmospheric samples that go well with Qwazaar's unique voice
and sinister subject matter. But over the course of twenty-three tracks,
the dark sound of the Insomnitracks becomes somewhat dreary, and so do Qwazaar's
choices for topics.
Indeed, the greatest weakness of Walk Thru Walls is its lack of
diversity. Much of the album's subject matter is battle-orientated, and
though Qwazaar's grim raps may at first seem exciting, by the end of Walk
Thru Walls the content gets quite exhausting; Qwa's rhymes sound good, but
tend to lack substance. For example, on "Desert Eagle" he spits
this irrelevant passage: "I'm on some civilized thug shit that you bitches
can't fuck with/ yo fuck the critics and fuck religion, we march over burnt
bridges/ so pay attention before you find your limbs missing, and kill the
ignorance/ it's evident that time on earth is short, but enough time to make you
realize your spine is dirt." "More BS" suffers from the
same imperfection, as there's nothing wrong with it sonically, but aside from
the countless expletives, nothing is being said. In the same way
"Quantum Leaf" is essentially pleasing, but even the most devoted herb
fiend will recall at least a dozen more imaginative takes on the same subject.
Heavier subject matter brings out the best of Qwazaar. "I Tried"
is exceedingly heart-felt, and represents a welcome digression from Qwazaar's
bloodthirsty battle raps. In the same vein are "One Life," and
"About the Author." "One Life" pairs Qwa with
JDoubleU, and the two swap sincere rhymes atop Chauncie Gardner's mellow
composition. "About the Author" is somewhat weaker
production-wise, but the rhymes are hitting, and so is Qwazaar's sharp-edged
While most of the guests on Walk Thru Walls are little known, Chi-Town
heavyweight Juice, and the talented O-Type Star make an appearance on the
straight-up dope "TTGP." The trio make you know that they have
paid their dues, and now it's their time to get paid. Nothing wrong with
that sentiment-- they deserve to do so, and O-Type Star's laid-back guitars are
particularly nice on the ear. "Get Paid" is similarly tight with
a soulful beat, and harmonious rhymes, but what's the point of making basically
the same song twice?
Walk Thru Walls is unquestionably a laudable effort; the majority of the
beats are good, and Qwazaar is a highly talented emcee. Yet for more or
less vague reasons it lacks the pizzazz which makes an album memorable.
The producers do their thing behind the boards, but generally they don't reach
the highland of absolute dopeness. Also Qwazaar has some fine tuning to do
before earning himself a spot amongst Chicago's finest. With a touch more
depth in production and subject matter, Qwazaar's next could very well realize
what Walk Thru Walls only hints of.