The title of the very first track on Swizz Beatz’ One Man Band Man pretty much sums up the obscene self-commercialization and the packaging of violence, greed, and misogyny to white teens that has become commonplace in hip-hop today. Swizzy (known as Kasseem Dean to his mother) touts his knack for “beats, hooks, loops, and samples” (and gunshot sounds) on “Product Man,” a track that’s as hollow, soulless, and devoid of purpose as your average chest-thumping rap album intro. The trend of big-name producers dropping “solo” albums is becoming more and more popular (this is Swizzy’s second), and they’re the kind of vanity projects that allow ostensible knob-twirlers like Timbaland to fancy themselves capable enough to drop rhymes beyond tags like “icky-icky-icky!” That’s not to say Swizzy isn’t an able MC, but his best work has always been laying down beats for other artists—most recently, Beyoncé‘s “Ring the Alarm” and “Upgrade U” and Eve’s under-appreciated “Tambourine.” His siren gimmick and “hey-hey” chants were growing tiresome long before One Man Band Man, and it’s not only his own ideas that are getting stale: “Part of the Plan” is built around a Coldplay sample, something Timbo and Brandy did already—and better. The album is less eclectic than 2002’s G.H.E.T.T.O. Stories, but it’s also tight and mercifully succinct, and lead single “It’s Me Bitches” (which sounds like an old Timbo/Missy collaboration or Hello Nasty-era Beastie Boys track) and “Take a Picture” (which samples Bill Withers’s “Lovely Day” and follows in the steps of Swizzy’s previous pop-friendly confections like Beyoncé‘s “Check on It” and Gwen’s “Now That You Got It”) are an inventive mix of all those “beats, hooks, loops, and samples” he’s so proud of.
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