Maino's follow up to If Tomorrow Comes… is being pitched by the Brooklyn, Bed-Stuy-based rapper as the product of him moving on from being someone in the streets who raps to a full-time part of the music industry. "Looking in the mirror I'm a rapper now/ What's supposed to happen now?" he asks at one point. Apparently, the answer he comes to is to slap shoddy R&B singers on to the choruses of the overwhelming majority of The Day After Tomorrow's 16 tracks. It's a move that diminishes the impact of Maino's confident raps, and too often leaves the album resembling a pot-luck attempt to coin another crossover hit in the wake of 2009's "All The Above."
That song, which is now certified Platinum, of course features T-Pain singing the Auto-tuned R&B hook. T-Pain often goes platinum, sometimes on name recognition alone. But the anonymous warblers on The Day After Tomorrow don't posses that pull. You can excuse the artificially-tuned "Let It Fly" as the radio-friendly effort on this project, though, but it's book-ended by songs that start to resemble bad parodies of popular hook-singers. The set's closing segment offends most, with "Messiah" (Akon-alike), "Glad To Be Alive" (Ja Rule in melodious mode), the title track (more Auto-tune tosh), and "Heart Stop," whose '80s-tinged vibe would have been better served by sampling Bonnie Tyler. At a listening session for the album last month, Maino joked that "Unstoppable" features "a fake Usher" crooning on the chorus. He meant it in jest, but if a singer's not imbuing a song with soul or adding big-name clout to a project, what are they bring to the table? It's telling that the most powerful songs on the album, the Buckwild-produced "Nino Brown" and the already-released "Cream," are R&B free affairs.
This trill hook attack on the ear-drums derails what's otherwise a decent showing from Maino. He's not the most fluid or fleet of tongue, but his pared-down words posses a real punch, especially over boisterous beats by Blast Off Productions, who handle a quarter of the production. There's an honesty to his voice and delivery that has you believing his words. On the title track he raps, "What happened to the old Maino? People say they miss him." He's still here - he's just picked up some needlessly slick saps along the way.