Guilty Simpson Ode to the Ghetto

"For fans of D12, Eminem, J Dilla, Madlib, Nas” boasts the text on my promo copy of Guilty Simpson’s Ode to the Ghetto. And when one gets the co-sign from the almighty J Dilla (who once famously remarked that Guilty was his "favourite MC”), there is mad pressure to not only live up to expectations but to exceed them. The first official LP from one Byron Simpson swaggers out of the gate, backed by powerful production from the late Dilla, Madlib and Denaun Porter. With a lyrical flow that is as un-ironic as his nom de guerre, Simpson spits perfunctory verses that, while serviceable, fail to inspire or provoke the listener’s "WTF? Rewind dat!” reflex. The better joints like "Footwork,” "My Moment” and the title track benefit from superior production and Simpson’s talent for riding a satisfying beat. Simpson’s knack for relaying grimy street tales ("Run,” "Robbery”) is counter-balanced by his hood perspective on the opposite gender ("She Won’t Stay at Home,” "Getting Bitches,” "I Must Love You”). While living up to the album title, whether Guilty Simpson lives up to Dilla’s blessing is definitely debateable. (Stones Throw)