Filed under: Album Reviews
‘Return Of The Product’ is one of those albums that has been on my hit list for a long time, and which I finally acquired a couple of months ago. Having read a bit of negative press regarding the album on the net, I wondered if my ‘this is going to be great’ hunch would be wrong, but I am glad to say that although this is by no means a sensational album, it is still a quality release that I would argue should be held in the same regard as his former bandmates’ joint venture ‘Dust To Dust’, which also seems to get largely ignored by even the more educated of hip hop fans (I’m no exception, having slept on these until only recently).
In some ways, you can see how ‘Return Of The Product’ was doomed to failure. With the success of 3rd Bass (both of their full length studio albums went gold) and the critics behind them, it is no surprise that the slightly more hardcore aesthetic on Serch’s first solo outing would be resented by those that had held the group in such high esteem. To be perfectly honest with you, I’m no expert on 3rd Bass and so don’t want to get too heavily into drawing comparisons between Serch’s earlier work as a member of that group and his own solo work: let’s get down to a discussion of the album.
The lead single here was of course the excellent ‘Back To The Grill’ featuring Nas, Chubb Rock and Red Hot Lover Tone which essentially acts as a sequel to the undisputed classic ‘Live at the BBQ’. I remember first hearing the former cut on a J Smoke mixtape around 2001 and was instantly taken by its bangin’ drum track and upbeat party vibe. I also love the album opener ‘Here It Comes’ which features some creative and interesting layers (check the African chants in the verse section and the bell during the chorus… quality) and the funky drum track means that this cut easily gets your head nodding. The remix that appears at the end of the album is also excellent, with an aggressive and seriously upbeat flava. ‘Can You Dig It’ is another favourite, with live drums and a multi-layered chorus hook that works very well. Serch handles co-production on the majority of the tracks, with T-Ray and Wolf & Epic chipping in, and the result is a pretty consistent album that successfully utilises live instrumentation whilst maintaining a relatively gritty vibe.
Match the beats with Serch’s unquestionable skills on the mic and you’ve got a winning formula. I have always liked his flow which feels relaxed and fluid, and his voice has a powerful quality that means he resonates over the music below. The content is also pleasingly varied with comments on society, bragging verses and I think he even kicks a little bit of 5% wisdom at one stage (!) although I can’t remember what track this appears on.
If you’ve been sleepin’ on this album like me then I think you will be pleasantly surprised. Although it is by no means an exceptional album, it deserves far more props than it has ever garnered, slipping off the hip hop map for all but the most dedicated of fans. Right this wrong: hit the link.