By Conor Hooley
We all have our limits. Rappers are no different. But in hip-hop, for better or worse, “limited” is far from a death sentence (see: Too Short’s entire career). Of course, sometimes it is. And Aklock’s 8 Years and Running is a thoroughly limited product, where bland rhymes and basic beats conspire to test the limits of your attention span.
Aklock’s best quality as a rapper is his earnestness, and his willing to share his life on record makes him relatable. That’s important, but it’s hardly compensation for the rapper’s awkward delivery, infantile lyricism and painful lack of charisma. When listening to Aklock rhyme, you’ll hear no creativity, no innovation, no real sense of fun or entertainment at all. At its absolute best, Aklock’s rapping is barely run-of-the-mill, and the album’s guest spots, which are far from great, come as all-too-welcome distractions.
Worse yet, the uninspired rhymes get beats to match on 8 Years and Running. The production quartet of Dank, Dominic Deadbeat, Kid Kearn and Noj Rettort submit work that is simply lazy, looping boring samples and lifeless drumbeats in a way that makes four minutes feel like forever. Simply put, this stuff would have sounded tired in 1991 and is downright catatonic twenty years later.
And the best beat of the bunch, “Change,” is a straight jack of Big Pun’s “You Came Up” – but, somehow, with weaker drums. Seriously, how does that happen? If you’re going to steal a 12-year-old beat, have the good sense to not make it worse. Why sacrifice integrity for a setback in quality?