Sound — 9
This album is one word incredible. Everlast has grown up a lot (he had a heart attack during recording which changed his outlook on life) and diversified his music a lot. Instead of being a hard rappin bad boy, Ev is now a soulful troubador who does a little bit of everything. The sound of this album continued blazing a trail that House of Pain started, meaning the sounds that come out are unique in how they mix hip-hop beats and rock melodies, along with some pure songs of each. Ev's voice is gruff as ever, but he uses it to sing some hearty blues as well as spit out a flow or diss people (he beat Eminem down in their battle, despite what the MTV loving teenybopper below says). The key to this album is the great songwriting: tunes like What It's Like, Today, Tired, Get Down and the rest are just blazing, and sound like no other album you've heard. There are awesome guest spots too. There are great rap jams (Tired, Funky Beat, Money) more rock-based tracks (Ends, Today, What It's Like, Hot To Death) and some that combine everything into classic tracks like Death Come Callin, but everything here is top-notch and unique. Even straight up piano blues like 7 Years (the last thing you'd expect from Ev) is a nice twist. Don't mind, as E says, "the haters mad cause I got floor seats at the Lakers" check this album and you'll put this Whitey Ford in his own Hall Of Fame.
Lyrics — 9
The lyrics have significant meaning. "What It's Like" shines as it warns us not to be so quick to judge others until we've been in their position, and "Next Man" takes a stand against being self-indulgent and encourages helping the fellow man. "Ends" is about the utter loss of control and morals due to money, and "The Letter" is a heartfelt calling out to a love that Everlast apparently let slip through his fingers. As I said, the lyrics are very open, very honest, and not what I would've expected from the guy who sang "Jump Around" back in the early '90s. The guitar work is very bluesy and just as heartfelt as the lyrics, while the beats that are used in the more straight-forward hip-hop songs are solid and structured.
Overall Impression — 9
If you bought this album and stopped listening to it because the hip hop scared you away, go back and give it a second chance. It is by far my favorite album in my 200-some CD collection. You don't have to be fan of blues, rock, or rap to appreciate this one. Only a fan of music. You have to get it because it's worth every penny. He raps great. In my opinion none of his other CDs even compare to it. He has lyrics that speak it all. If you had any doubt, don't be afraid it's great! So buy it! Once you listen you will be glued to your CD player.