If Ray Benzino could have peered through the hourglass of time and look towards his own future back when he first arrived on the scene with The Almighty RSO what do you think Ray would see? Would he see the strong man he perceives himself as today, fighting to preserve a culture? Or would he see a desperate artist struggling to keep his musical career alive through petty gimmicks and selling techniques? Either way the man Ray Benzino once was and the man he is today are two different people.
The respect Benzino once had with RSO has slowly diminished over the years. The Boston native has had his share of setbacks over the years with his solo career and with the Made Men, however it has been his recent feud with Eminem that has put Benzino finally in the spotlight he craved. The story is well documented and would garner it's own review. As most feuds do, they tend to be decided through a variety of means, most of which lead through their albums. While some have proclaimed this contest over before it started, some were still interested in hearing what Benzino had to offer with his new LP "Redemption".
The publicity behind the Em versus Benzino beef actually added to the hype or interest surrounding "Redemption". For some it was a matter of seeing how low Benzino could go as for others it was merely based on curiosity. While Benzino's plan worked as far as getting attention for his album, the remainder of the plan back fired as "Redemption" is nothing more than an average attempt to strike it big for Benzino.
While "Redemption" is not the one of the worst albums you will ever hear, despite popular belief, it is a weak effort by Ray compared to his previous attempts. The main problem continues to lie within Benzino himself. Even in his Made Men days Benzino was always one of the weaker members of the group. On "Redemption" Benzino even drops to new lyrical lows, showcasing simplistic lyricism and rhyme patterns. Benzino was never the best lyricist but he was never this bad. Lyrically "Redemption" is one of the worst albums to be released in quite some time. While other artists who are not as lyrically fit can get by with their personality, flow and charisma, Benzino cannot. He lacks almost all the essential characteristics a good emcee has to have. His flow is down right boring, almost to the point he has none. Benzino treads through tracks such as "Xtra Hott", "Gangsta Touch", "Hoola Hoop" and "Would You" at a methodical pace with his simplistic lyricism and slow flow. While other artists have assets that can cover up their lyrical mishaps, Benzino's faults stare you in the face.
Benzino runs through your typical "blueprint" of an album with a mix of hard-core, intimate, party & ladies joints. He tries to switch it up with the softer sounds of "Would You", "I Remember" and the party anthem of "Rock The Party" but his dull lyricism is too much to overcome. Of course the two Eminem disses are included "Pull Your Skirt Up" and "Die Another Day" both of which are pathetic.
While not much praise can be thrown around Benzino for his attempt on "Redemption" he does have one thing going for him at times, solid production. Ray gathers some great production for tracks such as "Stayin 4 Eva", "You Wanna Holla" & "King Of Lady" & "Neve Shuvin". Benzino and Hangmen 3 have always been one of the more underrated production teams in the industry so its no surprise that several tracks are memorable in the production side. Also another strong point is the various guest appearances on the album. Since Benzino cannot hold down a track himself he gathers Jadakiss "My Name"& The Outlawz "Redemption Rosary", amongst others. The production side of these tracks holds it down while the guests' shine much brighter than Ray.
This may be the end of the road for Benzino as far as his music career goes. He tried to pull off something big but it backfired in his face now the whole Hip-Hop community is against him. Just looking at Ray's first week sound scan numbers are proof enough that Benzino just made his case worse by starting this whole controversy between him and Eminem. But through all the controversy, one thing is for certain; Ray could have never envisioned it ending like this.