CookBook: The Smell of Success
Ask someone a few years ago and I am positive they would tell you hip hop was dominated by the mainstream. Ask someone today and they would tell you there’s a resurgence of indie and the underground taking over hip hop. So when I hear an album that sounds like it’s circa 2007, with cluttered hi-hats, saw-tooth synths, and corny hooks, I shake my head and wish someone would tell these artists that the newness is in the realness.
CookBook released his album The Smell of Success with a very mainstream-esque sound dominating the entire project from opening track to close. The first track “Strange Brew” is the only song I would recommend anybody listen to off of this album. As for everything else? With track titles ranging from “The Party’s Still Jumpin’” and “We Got That Fire,” I kind of knew what to expect when listening to this album. Now, I’m not going to be a ‘hater’ and bash the entire piece, but you have to understand that I’ve studied and listened to hip hop for several years and I know when a topic has been overplayed. There will always be an industry for party anthems and dance hits, but if you are asking for a solid hip hop album, having more than one commercial ‘radio’ track is pushing it; constantly talking about stacking “cheddar” and getting on the dance floor and how cool you are is not the way to make a true hip hop record.
“Get That!!!!” further reinforces my critique as the sound effects and 4/4 dance-beat pattern repeats over and over and over throughout the track as CookBook urges you to “get that.” I’m not sure what we are supposed to get, but a headache is what I got. I don’t care for braggadocious rap and that’s all CookBook has to provide his listeners on this album. “Original Ideas” dumbs it down a little and all that there is really to complain about on this song are the obnoxious hi-hats (yet again). He even switches it up by having a sing-songy type of vocal approach to this track. Although I don’t take him “as serious as a heart attack,” I do admit, he’s not a horrible rapper; at least he’s got flow.
Looking at the tracklist, I saw some interesting features like Chino XL, Eligh and Guilty Simpson, and let me tell you guys, they take the track. CookBook has nothing on them, but I kind of feel a little odd about them rapping over these kinds of beats because it isn’t like them to rap over such a mainstream production. But if I had to give a gold star to this album I would say it is to the great features as the guest emcees really add some volume to this otherwise, lyrically-bland album. “WhatIGottaDo?!?” is beyond mainstream-corny and the beat on the title track just adds to the misery. I was just glad, after a few more tracks, that the album was over.
I’m sorry, but the production on the album isn’t the only thing that killed it for me on this album. CookBook is not your star emcee, and my advice to him is to get back in the kitchen and read up a little bit more because his raps are too braggadocious and he’s beating a dead horse with this party rap. Creativity and ingenuity is the new mainstream in today’s hip hop world, so CookBook should hop aboard the train because it’s moving out. By all means, if you are a supporter of overly mainstream, bubblegum, radio-rap, then please get this album; for everyone else, save your money for another buy.
MP3: CookBook “Strange Brew”
CookBook: The Smell of Success