What’s better than two Hell Rell albums in 2009? Three Hell Rell albums in 2009. It’s July and the not yet self-proclaimed Hardest Working Man in Show Business has blessed Dip Set’s 7 remaining fans with Hell Up in the Bronx. Bizzy Bone and Master P take notice.
You have to admire Hell Rell’s tenacity and dedication to getting music out to the masses, even if the results seem like yesterday’s dinner. You know what to expect thematcally: a street life sandwich rolled up in between two slices of coke tales with a side of gun talk. “If I die/let me die with my swag then/bury me in the ground with a million cash then” he crows on the oddly titled “Keep it in the Bag.” This line summarizes not just the content of 97 percent of the rhymes, but Hell Rell’s appeal as a rapper. What saves him from ridicule and irrelevance is his self-confidence. You can hear his belief in his himself through these lyrics, even if no one else does. It’s is infectious and helps him overcome weaker lyrical moments.
Hell Rell’s capable of flashing flows and humor, much like ex-crony Jim Jones. “Got Enough Gunz,” finds Rell at his best, spitting violence over a bouncy combo of digital noise. What he’s missing is Jones’ connections—a lack of front line guests or producers deflates the album. Lukewarm beats by The Batkave plague Hell Up in the Bronx, exposing the downside of Hell Rell’s shotgun strategy. Rhymes are cheap. Beats cost money. Attempted street bangers like “Hell Yeah,” or “I’m a Beast” crumble under fragile bass lines and recycled loops.
Production is what fails him the most on this album as these bargain bin beats do nothing but shift focus on his predictable vocals. There’s no crossover attempts as on previous albums, he focuses solely on, crime, partying, and dropping Cam’s name as much as possible. No thought is given to matching the theme of the rhymes with similarly gritty beat. Rell even rhymes over Wham’s “Careless Whisper,” which is even worse than you’d imagine.
The potential shown for successful street story rap on the fierce “Who U Fuckin’ Wit,” does exist on this and other Hell Rell albums. But until Hell Rell chooses to be more selective about the material he releases, shoving albums down our throats is only gives his career the treadmill effect. Too much filler, not enough product.