Travie McCoy – Lazarus
Release Date: June 8, 2010
Record Label: Decaydance/Fueled By Ramen
Life must be good for the artist formerly known as Travis McCoy. Now going by his childhood name Travie, this Gym Class Hero emcee is unleashing his first solo album, Lazarus, to the hip-hop world. Full of summer time jams, it's hard to imagine this is the same guy who rapped about desolate times and experiences in his band’s second album Papercut Chronicles. Taking a break from his Gym Class duties, McCoy decided that an album full of positive songs (rather than some of the bleaker stuff he planned on releasing) would be a better release for the summer time.
The Lazarus artworks seems to depict a new-age version of The Music Man, or maybe Travie, floating up to the clouds, ready to shower everyone with his feel-good jams. And that’s exactly how the album kicks off. “Dr. Feel Good” is banging opener with a great hook from Cee-Lo Green (note: if you want to have kick-ass hooks, hire Cee-Lo; it never fails). On the track, McCoy rhymes about what it would be like to be happy. It’s got a Jock Jams feel to it, as it’ll get you moving rather quickly. The auto-tuned electro-rocker “Superbad (11:34)” works in a weird way, although it comes across as a Gym Class b-side. The major difference between this solo release and a Gym Class release is how much singing McCoy does. Sure, he isn’t the best vocalist, but he isn’t bad. He’s about on par (or maybe even better than) with Decaydance buddy William Beckett.
The song that may or may not have already set your summer ablaze is the breezy “Billionaire.” This track seems to have fallen out of Jason Mraz’s last album and is paced by some steel drums and Bruno Mars’ delicious chorus, while McCoy pleads about wanting to become a billionaire. The first highlight of Lazarus is the urgent “Need You,” a light pop-rock number that really shines a light on McCoy’s singing talents.
Not every song is a smash, such as the boring filler of “Critical” and “After Midnight” follows the obnoxious dance/neon phase, but his charm can make up for the missteps at times. The old-school nature of “Akidagain” will take you down nostalgia lane. The chorus of children that sing the hook will stay in your head for hours, while McCoy’s flow has never sounded tighter. McCoy shows his classic rock roots with “We’ll Be Alright,” which samples a Supergrass song, even though the lyrics have about as much complexity as a Cobra Starship song.
The closest McCoy gets to radio rap is on “The Manuel,” which features more auto-tuned goodness, this time from the guy who made this whole craze popular, T-Pain. Despite that, McCoy closes out Lazarus with a song old school GCH fans will appreciate. “Don’t Pretend” gives us McCoy at his most vulnerable, as it’s not all sunshine and rainbows in his life.
Did I expect to like this album as much as I do? Not really, but thanks to some well-placed songs, a quality collection of producers, and Travie McCoy’s undeniable charm, Lazarus has landed on my summer playlist. This is not a world-beater by any means, but it shows some growth in McCoy as an artist and lets him get out his ideas before recording and releasing the next Gym Class Heroes album. Maybe if he had Hayley Williams sing a chorus on this record, more people would pay attention to it or give it to chance. But on the real, Lazarus isn’t any worse than B.o.B’s recent album and it is definitely worth your time this summer.
Eh.... this album isn't terrible.... but it isn't anything to get excited about. Granted that I heard this record right between hearing Drake's TML and Eminem's Recovery, but still I don't see this record getting much spins from me.