Average music is always the most frustrating. It doesn't inspire the extreme emotions that truly transcendent or absolutely abysmal records do. It can be maddening to listen to because at times it seems as though it will rise above mediocrity but ultimately it lays resolutely in that artistic purgatory. Nature's new album, Pain Killer, is an average record.
Nature has been around for more than a decade now and in that time he has made plenty of dedicated fans. But even they can't deny that Nature has never really risen above the fray to become a household name. There is very little unique about Nature, and this new LP is a perfect example. Over 17 tracks Nature mixes decent lines with throwaways but after the CD is done playing it's hard to remember any of them.
Nature's flow is forceful but monotonous and his insistence to saddle his most songs with repetitive choruses makes everything blur together. Half the time Nature sounds like he is bored out of his mind and that feeling becomes very contagious over the album's 57 minutes.
As far as beats go the record has a few interesting, if conventional, tracks. "Gotta Get It" mixes a spry beat with light-funk keys and inspires Nature to actually raise his energy level and it sounds like he is having fun. "Ya Homie" combines a wheezing P-Funk-esque synth line with a bass heavy beat to recall some of Dre's minor works from years past. But too many songs are stuck in a mid-tempo groove. And his guest artists end up both helping and hurting Nature. Prodigy [click to read] sleepwalks through his two guest verses, repping G-Unit hard but saying little else, while Kool G Rap [click to read] breezes through and is lyrically fun and interesting, as is usual with the hip hop legend. Much like the rest of the album for every good thing there is a corresponding bad and it leaves the listener flat.
So what we are left with is an album that is sure to appeal to a small group of people, those who love '90s New York City rap and will devour any of it they can get their hands on, no matter if it is far less than Grade A material. For the rest of us there is little to return to on this album. It is not awful but it is forgettable. And in this over crowded market that may be worse.