When Travis Barker announced that he was working on a Hip Hop album, he faced skeptical reactions and varied expectations. After all, Barker made his name behind the drum kit, working with bands like Blink-182, The Aquabats and The Transplants. So when this announcement was made, it was difficult not to be a skeptic. However, he demonstrated a genuine appreciation for the culture and soon assembled an impressive list of cosigners and collaborators working with artists like T.I. and The Cool Kids before linking up with many more. Now, while he has worked with emcees in the past, Give the Drummer Some finally officially opens the door for Barker to enter to world of Hip Hop he’s always said he wanted to walk through.
Instead of a passive entrance, Barker and his comrades jam through the doorway. Upon the first 30 or so seconds of the lead track, “Can A Drummer Get Some” , Barker furiously attacks the kit while Game and Lil Wayne flow to complement his breakout beat. Swizz Beatz chimes in with his usual animated hook while the emcees and Barker break into a raucous cut that would make a Wu member proud. In fact, the Wu-Tang Clan show their support on “Carry It” , a standout track that has RZA and Raekwon cooking next to the always-welcome guitar work of Tom Morello, a genre-defying success story after his work with Rage Against the Machine and The Street Sweeper Social Club. If that’s not jamming through the doorway, Barker then truly makes himself heard with the blaring sounds of “Let’s Go,” where Lil Jon lets Twista, Busta Rhymes and Yelawolf show off their nearly impeccable flows over Barker’s drums.
For many, the list of emcees that have been mentioned would be enough, but Travis Barker decided to add even more names to The Drummer’s roster. Lupe Fiasco joins Pharrell Williams on “If U Want To” , where Lu’ shows what Lasers often didn’t, proving that he can still rhyme with the best of them. Not relying heavily on merely one type of emcee, Barker goes for an array of acts from all over the Hip Hop landscape. Snoop Dogg, E-40 and Ludacris join forces for “Knockin” right before Slaughterhouse members lend their similes and metaphors to the disc (“Devil’s Got a Hold of Me”). Later, Bun B and Beanie Sigel team up for one of the most compelling songs on the album, “Just Chill” . This strategy, to unite emcees from all walks of Rap, proves to be stellar as it allows for a diverse group of acts to perform under a unifying umbrella: Barker’s drums.
However, it doesn’t always work that way. For example, Kid Cudi’s mellow nature clashes negatively with the potency of Barker’s drums on “Cool Head” and “Saturday Night” by Slash and The Transplants simply seems out of place here. Another flaw of the album comes in the production as many of the songs have a similar feel that sounds more like repetition than cohesion. Yes, these strikes take away from the disc, but its highlights tend to shine brighter than its low points.
With all of that said, Barker rarely misses on his debut. The album is no classic, but it is a well-crafted disc by a musician who clearly cares for the culture. While some may gripe about the various songs that sound quite similar to one another, or the various lists of emcees on every track, Barker is untroubled by the chaos. Just as he faced the skeptics and naysayers when he first announced the album, Barker faces listeners with determination and fury on each beat. In the end, despite some of its flaws, Give The Drummer Some demonstrates that Barker can not only walk through the door, but that he can also have a place at the culture’s table.