Reviews

Review: 88 Keys – The Death of Adam

by Winston "Stone" Ford

88 Keys
The Death of Adam
4-0

88 Keys is one of those underground producers who, for the most part, never was a household name. The producer of such artists as A Tribe Called Quest, Consequence and The Pharcyde has been around for a hot minute, but after what seems like years behind the boards, Keys is following the footsteps of other producer-turned-rappers like Kanye West in throwing his hat in the MC game. It’s not surprising that West served as executive producer and mentor to 88 during the development of the album.

The album, The Death of Adam, focuses on a concept that seem to be the only thing I can connect with in hip-hop nowadays–women. As someone who can only clarify his relationships with women as unsuccessful at best, I tend to gravitate toward projects like this one. The concept revolves around the “death” of 88’s friend Adam (as well as a reference to the Biblical Adam and Eve), who’s life ends because of his constant obsession with “the punani,” as Keys describes it. The Death of Adam goes through the Punani Development Life Cycle, from starting out in the “friend zone,” to STDs to eventual unwanted fatherhood. Even though the subject matter is a downer, Key’s cheeky verses and the upbeat instrumentals give the whole album a comical vibe. In some circles, The Death Of… has been described as hip-hop’s version of the Judd Apartow film Knocked Up.

And that style is what prevents this album from falling into obscurity. Even though 88 Keys gets props for the concept, songs about love, sex, and the like are nothing new, and his MC credentials are a little suspect. Production wise, however, Keys and West takes some calculated risks, like getting alternative band Shitake Monkey on “The Friends Zone,” and recruiting Couch Sessions fave Jack Davey on “Dirty Peaches,” the latter seems built around Jack’s sultry voice. Even though there is not a bad song on the The Death Of…, and tracks like “M.I.L.F.,” “Stay Up,” and “Morning Wood,” are exceptional, I can’t seem to see what is so revolutionary about this album. People are praising 88 Keys as the next Kanye, and I’m not seeing it yet. I’m not saying that Keys produced a bad album–its still one of the top albums of the year–I just think my expectations were a tad higher than they should have been. What do y’all think?


  • http://www.glasshousedc.com Sonya

    What drew me to 88 as a rapper was his comic relief. What I like about The Death of Adam is the storylike sequence along with the comic relief.. Otherwise, I agree with you that the album presents nothing new lyrically; I think because many people new nothing of 88’s work prior to this album they’re seeing this album as a breath of fresh air in the game right now. I personally don’t bombard myself with Top 40 so at best this is just another rap album I can listen to top to bottom.

  • http://thecouchsessions.com Stone

    True, I feel the same way. I don’t think that the album is extraordinary, but very refreshing. However, I think that there is a tendency to prop up some artists with questionable skills just because they are different. Not saying that its a bad thing, but I think that this album is a prime example of manufactured high expectations.

  • http://www.realmangojuice.com king

    I agree with this one. I bought the album because I am a long time fan of 88, before he was able to surface and actually gain some notoriety. I think Kanye for the most part set the bar on a mainstream level, producer turned rapper. I dont think everyone should follow in his footsteps because thats when people over step their bounderies. Shit, some have even heard Just Blaze spit and he aint even all that bad, but he isnt in line to drop an album, at least I hope not. Niggas need to stick to the script because everything for the most part, its not for you. Just cause it worked for someone else, does NOT mean it will work for you. 88 is a prime example of that cause his content is dope but his word play…EH!

    Now you want someone who has made the transition this year and will be over looked.

    BLACK MILK.

    niggas need to watch out for this dude. WAY TO TALENTED and at a young age, following the late great Dillas footsteps.

  • http://superbizzee.blogspot.com Superbizzee

    I concur, Stone. After giving the entire album my undivided attention for a few spins, I feel like the hype surrounding the release outshines the content here. More often than not, he seems like he’s patterning his rhyme scheme and flow after Kanye…which is a big no-no in my book. Not a horrible album, but not all that noteworthy either. “M.I.L.F.” and “Dirty Peaches” are my favorites.

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