Rhyme&Review: Mr Hudson

8 12 2009

Who?

Mr Hudson (inexplicably spelled without any sort of punctuation), is the nerdy-looking British guy who’s been tagging along with your biggest hip-hop artists around — Kanye West and Jay-Z.

And yes, you are correct, it is the same Mr Hudson that Kanye once said “could be bigger than him” when it’s all said and done.

Think about that right there. The man with music’s biggest ego said this fraile, lanky tea-sucking Brit could be bigger than him. Could he be bigger than Jesus? Bigger than wrestling? Bigger than the Beatles? Bigger than breast implants?

After his single “Supernova” hit over the summer — one which I erroneously dubbed the “Jam of the Summer” (that award went to “Knock You Down” by West, Ne-Yo and Keri Hilson) — and listening to he and Jay remake “Forever Young” into “Young Forever”, I would have said no.

But I was wrong. Because I’m an idiot.

Straight No Chaser

I wanted this album to be good. I needed this album to be good. I prayed to God for this album to be good. And the Lord madeth the album, saw it was good, said it was good, and it was good. Damn good.

What Hudson did that saved this album from being a total disaster, was his ability to mix electronic elements with non-electronic instruments. If you’re going to put a ukulele with some synths, you’re setting yourself up to be blasted. Why? Because chances are you’re going to fail.

But Hudson didn’t fail. His production team was able to find a middle ground between electronic and acoustic, and without this yin and yang of sound this album would be a memorable as that one thing that other guy did once. Exactly.

Specifically, “There Will Be Tears”, “Stiff Upper Lip”, “Lift Your Head From Your Hands” provide a blueprint of not only how to successfully combine the aforementioned musical elements, but also inject lyrics worth listening to. Sure, some of the them are occasionally trite “Oh no / I stubbed my toe”, but it’s those lyrics that keep the songs balanced.

Let’s face it, nobody wants to hear a British guy whine about his love life for 13 straight songs. Those little, campy lyrics allow you to stay focused on everything that’s going on, oscillating your focus between lyrics and music.

So Now What?

I doubt you’re going to hear a lot of this album on the radio, unless you live across the pond with all of the other foggy-bottomed Britons, so it’ll be interesting to see what kind of impact his album has on American music.

I could see Mr Hudson’s popularity within the new generation of emcees (Drake, B.o.B, Kid Cudi, Wale, Lupe Fiasco — the first disciple of the Kanye sect, and to a lesser extent busters like Charles Hamilton and Asher Roth) rising to the point where Mr Hudson could become a sort of Nate Dogg entity — continually providing features and hooks for the biggest stars.

I could also see Mr Hudson having a long, successful and relatively quiet career, considering his particular sound. But when Kanye West is calling you the next big thing, and you’ve already been featured on songs with Jay-Z, I doubt this will be the path Mr Hudson’s career takes.

Mr Hudson – Straight No Chaser

1. Supernova (feat. Kanye West) – ★★★
2. White Lies – ★★★
3. Straight No Chaser – ★★★
4. Knew We Were Trouble – ★★★
5. Learning to Live – ★★★
6. Instant Messenger – ★★★
7. Anyone But Him (feat. Kanye West) – ★★★
8. There Will Be Tears – ★★★★
9. Everything Is Broken (feat. KiD CuDi) –
10. Stiff Upper Lip – ★★★★
11. Lift Your Head From Your Hands – ★★★★
12. Time – ★★★
13. Central Park – ★★★

Straight No Chaser Total ★: 39
Straight No Chaser ★ Ratio: 3.00

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