The Vegas-born rapper Big B appeared on not one, but three released albums in 2007. The man is nothing, if not prolific. Whereas a rock fan might be lucky to find a dozen songs on any given release, the solo venture of these, B’s own album More to Hate, has a whopping 21 tracks at the listener’s disposal.
Whereas it may once have seemed that the music took a backseat to the clever wordplay, sampling aside, rap eagerly incorporates electric and acoustic guitars and all sorts of piano/keyboard stylings in ways that not only might be more at home within rock or mainstream pop, but can actually sound more invigorating in the rap arena at times. Oddly enough, it can sometimes feel like the thematic content is what now seems less interesting than the music itself. This is the dilemma found on Big B’s More to Hate, a musically-engaging album which sometimes manages to delight sonically slightly more than it does lyrically.
A solemn organ riff punctuates the start of the disc, as B explains his delayed absence from the scene with the opening “More to Hate,” which only reiterates to the detractors that if they didn’t like him before, the wait for his return will only further add reasons to throw the hate his way. Once the proclamation has been made, he gets down to business, delving into the good fortune of his “American Dream,” a life which has kept him from the cubicle hell of so many others. B dishes out a trio of sweet acoustic guitar-driven tunes, each different from the last, as “White Trash Life” fuses breezy topical guitar over lyrics about being true to himself, before shifting into the countrified twang of “Put ‘Em Up,” aided by an appearance from fellow rapper Danny Diablo. This run of six-string serenades culminates with “Counting Pennies,” a soft guitar and organ lament about the everyday struggle to make ends meet.
Big B starts to find his party mojo again, and the reggae sounds of “Pass the Jager” find B ready to down a good shot or two, and as if there were any doubt, “Real As They Come,” reinforced by a simple keyboard line, makes it clear that B says what he means. The pop hooks of “Looky Looky” eerily reminded of Smash Mouth (of all bands), with Big B circling a girl that has hungrily been eyeing him for some dirty fun. The jangly, Blind Melon-esque “On the Road” talks about the life musicians try to make sense of on the road, while the solo piano comes full front and center in “Come Take a Journey,” a humble invitation to B’s ongoing party.
At this point, the album begins to repeat its thoughts a bit, but the music never fails to intrigue. The Kottonmouth Kings show up for “We Can Smoke,” a fun, direct nod to Men Without Hats’ “The Safety Dance.” “Miss Wonderful” is a nice departure, a keys-based tune about B’s lady, a loving woman who has seen the rapper’s every dark side. The Dirtball-featured good time anthem “It’s All Good” even finds its center in a sleek Middle Eastern lick. The album winds down with its best material, but in the end, it’s not a party B has on his mind. “Staring Out My Window” brings back the reggae vibe, with B reflecting on a wish for his life to slow down a bit and offering the sense that maybe the public persona of a rap star can be exhausting to maintain. The last musical track, “Brand New Day,” is a really nifty multi-layered track of harmony vocal “oohs” and “aahs” and lush, swirling keyboards, as B gets ready to do it all over again. For an album called More to Hate, it’s interesting that Big B has chosen to end on such a reflective note, but the sentiment is not unwelcome.
Big B is no slouch, and he’s clearly got his thing down cold. Whether a fan of rap in general or just clever instrumental hooks, there’s sure to be something to latch onto on More to Hate. Or just, well, if not your cup of tea, as the title suggests, something more to hate.