Special Effects

by: Tech N9ne

Sticking to his guns with angry, soul-searching lyrics spewing out while the high-powered crossover collaborations fly about, Tech N9ne skillfully rides his career trajectory as it soars ever upwards with Special Effects, an album that's powerful more than purposeful, plus a therapy session where all the party people can sing along. After literally drilling into the underground rapper's head during the intro, the album rolls out with a series of hard-hitting solo cuts, most produced by house beatmaker Seven and some featuring a Gospel choir, because that's the stately and dramatic way Tech rolls. Frequent collaborators and Strange Music regulars like Krizz Kaliko (featured on the Alice Cooper-like "Shroud") and Hopsin (guest growler on the bass-dropping highlight "Psycho Bitch III") appear before the album goes wandering into some weighty metal balladry with Slipknot's Corey Taylor on "Wither," then it moves into worthy radio material with 2 Chainz and B.o.B on the aptly titled electro-popper "Hood Go Crazy." Cramming Lil Wayne, Yo Gotti, and Big Scoob into one posse cut makes "Bass Ackwards" an easy pick, and it's another skillful moment from Seven when the minimal robot beat of "No K" bleeps and suits both E-40 and Krizz Kaliko. Kaliko is back for the odd Richie Havens-inspired jam and Eminem feature called "Speedom (Worldwide Choppers 2)," then the album turns back toward patented Strange Music heaviness with "A Certain Comfort" and "Burn It Down" being rock-rap of the highest order, while the woozy "Life Sentences" stretches out in that retro Funkadelic style. Among it all is the story-telling triumph of "Lacrimosa," a constantly weaving and swaying cut where the loss of the rapper's mother threatens to rip apart his psyche, along with his career. That's plenty of worthwhile music, but Special Effects ramps up to its most attractive moments and gives newcomers plenty to wade through. That said, the album doesn't even buckle with this all-star and ultra-ambitious weight, as the gifted Tech remains a great balancer of the very big and the very bold. ~ David Jeffries

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