There is one
thing that can’t be disputed: Obie
debut album Cheers was a
damn good LP. But was it really his album? Or, more to the point, was Obie what made it so dope? That is the
question here. He had Dr. Dre, Timbaland, DJ Muggs and Eminem
lending him some excellent production and equally as impressive guest shots.
The most notable (and perhaps detrimental), were a handful of blistering verses
from his boss Eminem that were
beyond show-stealing.

All of this
took attention away from the fact that Obie
was a promising emcee. From his excellent pre-Shady material (classics like “Well Known Asshole” and “Broke,
Jobs, Homeless”), Obie showed he had
the skills, attitude and presence to be a bonafide star. It was no surprise
that Obie was scooped up by fellow
Motown superstar on his then blossoming label Shady Records.

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Second Round’s On Me couldn’t be more appropriately
titled, as this time around it’s all Obie.
One posse cut and a few crooners handling hooks aside, it’s just Mr. Trice through 18 tracks. The LP
kicks off with “Wake Up,” a lyrical alarm clock to both the inner city and to
the suburban kids unnecessarily trying to emulate a lifestyle they shouldn’t
want. He spits truth that he probably couldn’t articulate as well a few years ago:
born and raised, mental slaves/and I
don’t see change befor’em reachin’ the grave/all I see is my homies corpse
decay/crying at his wake, can’t recognize his face/face it, you not identifying
with me/my identity distorts your visibility/see you can’t see me, peep what
he’s achieving/you receive information from TV/I’m in the hood, I live it, you
read about it.
” Lyrics are far from his only progression; Obie flaunts a new bounce flow on “The
Ballad of Obie Trice” and “24’s,” and rides the ridiculous “Out of State” like
a rodeo cowboy. Whether he is doing ig’nant (the banging “Kill Me A Mutha”),
the picture painting (“Ghetto”), the heartfelt (“Mama”), or the introspective (“Obie’s
Story”), Obie makes it work in

his A game, Obie made sure to pick
beats that could make the grade as well. The ever-improved Emile laces something lovely for “Wanna Know.” Well really, it’s
something grimy as the guitars just grind through the song backed by a great
rock vocal sample for the hook. Obie
may be unusually clumsy riding the beat, but Witt & Pep’s horn-driven beat for “Cry Now” is flat out illy. Eminem later provides one of his best
works ever for the club-made “Jamaican Girl” – they don’t all sound the same
now do they? Em provides another
solid beat for the Detroit
posse cut with Big Herc and Trick Trick and blows minds with his
best verse in years.

These days
everyone likes to think that every respectable artist has one “classic” in
their catalogue. If that is the case, Second
Round’s On Me
will likely go down as Obie’s.
The LP bangs from front to back with beats that are tailored to Obie, rather than a generic Aftermath sound that could have fit
anyone on the label. And for his part, Obie
has improved ten-fold as an emcee. Down this, and wait on round three.

Check out
our review for Cheers right here