“Obie Trice, real name, no gimmick”. Ever since those words were introduced on Eminem’s mainstream hit “Without Me” the Hip-Hop community has patiently waited for Obie Trice’s debut. The Detroit native is Eminem’s latest artist to be released on the newly incorporated Shady Records, and is an emcee that brings an intense street presence to the label. Obie is a gritty, hard-core emcee who represents the slums of Detroit he was raised in. And while Em has tried to push Obie into the mainstream light, Obie is not an emcee with a lot of superstar qualities and this is never more evident than on his debut album “Cheers”.
Obie Trice is an emcee with talent; however, it is not the type of talent that translates into mainstream or commercial appeal. Obie is an emcee for the streets and when he sticks to that persona on his debut “Cheers” the results end up positive. However, it is when Obie sways away from that when he runs into trouble, as he is not an emcee that can really produce catchy or superstar like quality tracks. Proof of this comes from a variety of the missteps featured on “Cheers”. The lead single “Got Some Teeth” is a forced attempt to recreate your usual catchy pop hit that Eminem produces as his first single for every album. However, this time around the formula fails miserably, as the cookie cutter production by Eminem sounds all too misplaced with Obie’s rugged flow and street persona. The song's concept is also questionable, as it comes off as immature, corny and bland.
Another weak attempt at a big hit is the Timbaland produced “Bad Bitch” which unfortunately continues the streak of horrendously produced Timbo tracks given to outside artists. Speaking of lurid production, D-12’s Kon Artis continues to be one of the industries worst producers as he once again proves on the generic bounce sounds of “Spread Yo Shit”. Why the Shady/Aftermath camp continues to allow Denaun Porter to produce for every album released is still a mystery. Other tracks that falter due to lackluster production are the Eminem produced “Hands On You” and your typical groupie tales of “Hoodrats”, which is co-produced by Emile & Eminem.
While a good portion of “Cheers” is filled with your typical filler material such as “Never Forget Ya”, “Follow My Life” & “Cheers”, there are some outstanding moments that actually show the talent and potential Obie possess. The most notable of these is the amazingly produced “Don’t Come Down”, which is an epic tale of Obie’s relationship with his mother, as well as his struggles surviving the rough streets of Detroit. The powerful vocal sample will instantly engulf the listener and is sure to send chills down their spine. Lyrically Obie delivers one of his best performances, as he paints a vivid picture of struggle, pain and resiliency.
While no other tracks mirror the power of “Don’t Come Down”, there are a handful of standout songs in which great production carries Obie over the top. A majority of the good production on the album comes from the doctor Andre Young himself, who easily outshines Eminem’s production efforts on the album. “OH” featuring Busta Rhymes, is a sure fire hit for Obie with a vintage Dre & Mike Elizondo keyboard melody and haunting g funk sound. The weak storytelling tales of “The Set Up” is another solid Dre effort, no matter Obie’s lackluster ability to paint a captivating story. “Look Into My Eyes” is another haunting West Coast beat from Dre that stands out due to a very catchy Nate Dogg hook. The most controversial track on the album is the Murda Inc diss track “Shit Hits The Fan”, which features Dr. Dre & Eminem. The hardest punches thrown in the fiery diss track come from Dre’s ghostwriter, as the doctors’ verse takes some hard shots at Ja Rule.
Besides Dre’s influence on the album, the overwhelming amount of guest appearances is the only other shining moment. Obie is an emcee that definitely needs guest appearances cluttered throughout his albums, as he can clearly not hold down an entire joint by himself. Eminem makes a whopping 5 appearances on the album, delivering standout verses each time. One of the better offerings comes on “Lady”, where Em and Obie poke fun at the opposite sex. Eminem especially steals the show with such comedic lines as “you'll be stuck with me for the rest of your life. Cause if I get attached to you, we'll be joined at the hip. I'll be so latched to you you'll be walkin' out the house and I'll run up and tackle you. Chain your ass up to the bed and shackle you. You don't think you're leaving' this house in that, do you? Not till I brand my name in your ass and tattoo you. And have you walking' out this bitch in turtleneck sweaters, scarves and full leathers in 90 degree weather”. The other notable guest appearances come from the mixtape hit “We All Die Someday”, which is another effort in a long line of diss tracks. The kid Lloyd Banks spits his usual fire, as does Em, who amazes the listener with his sick wordplay and flow. But the biggest surprise is 50’s verse, which is reminiscent of his earlier days.
With “Cheers” Obie proves that with some help he can be an entertaining emcee who can provide memorable experiences. However, he also proves that without that help he is nothing more than an above average emcee. Obie doesn’t posses a standout quality that will enable him to succeed for years to come. His affiliations with other great rappers and producers is enough for him to get by now, but in the future hardly anyone will be talking about Obie’s own performance on his debut album.