The thing I’m excitingly witnessing more and more of in hip-hop right now is one rapper and one producer working completely on a project together, such as Brother Ali’s latest LP with Jake One and the Killer Mike album released earlier this year with El-Producto on the boards. Both of those albums speak for themselves with rightfully earned praise, and fortunately Buckshot and 9th Wonder’s latest collaborative effort The Solution succeeds as well.
Of course when this is an artist’s third full-length album with the same producer, there’s most likely an established foundation present, but the fact that Buckshot is able to maintain longevity for nearly 20 years without sounding dated is impressive.
The opening track, “The Big Bang,” is appropriately titled with a hard-hitting instrumental of twangy electric guitars and melodically thumping drums that’s a nice departure from 9th Wonder’s usually soulful production. Where this album really shines is the balanced variation that 9th Wonder provides throughout the forty minutes that keeps the listener’s interest. From up-tempo songs such as “What I Gotta Say” and “Stop Rapping” to more slowed down tracks a la “The Feeling” and “You”. 9th Wonder truly flexes his dexterity as an architect of sound with beats that allow Buckshot to ride.
Buckshot truly embodies the title of this album: he claims to be the solution to the abysmal state of hip-hop with an unapologetic perception. Albeit that perception is slightly delusional, I think we can attribute most of that to common braggadocio in hip-hop. I do believe, however, that there’s a good deal of truth in a lot of what Buckshot is spitting about on this album in regards to lesser rappers, especially on the song “Stop Rapping”: “You see lights, cameras and action/rapping ain’t for everyone/son stop rapping.” With every twenty-something-year-old thinking they can rap equipped with unoriginal lyrics and Pro Tools saturating the genre, hip-hop doesn’t need subliminal disses or petty, bullshit Twitter beef. It needs someone who knows what they’re doing to let them know what’s up.
Another standout track is “Shorty Left,” where Buckshot talks to his estranged wife who left him. The song continues on about the nature of his relationship with her but when it gets to guest feature Rapsody’s verse, it’s his wife talking back to him from her own point of view. This closure humanizes the song by fleshing both sides of the story which adds to the overall believable depth of the track. What could have been a forgettable song about loss ends up showing a very vulnerable side to the typically aggressive Buckshot.
And yet, to say that the producer outshined the MC on this album would be a fairly accurate statement, but that’s not to imply that Buckshot didn’t hold his own on this project. He most certainly did. However multiple times throughout the album I found myself drowning out Buckshot’s lyrics just to soak in the lush production 9th Wonder is such a savant at creating. In essence, The Solution isn’t an album that defies conventional methods or attempts anything different because it doesn’t have to. It takes the aggression and passion of past decades with an updated sound for the modern era that ends up being pretty awesome.