Many 21st century MCs love to rap about their expensive tastes: expensive cars, expensive clothes, expensive booze, expensive homes. They might like to think that they're "keeping it real," but they're selling pure fantasy; they're "keeping it real" about as much as the Kardashian sisters. That said, some 21st century rappers do love to hit the listener with a dose of cold, hard reality, which is what Swollen Members do on Dagger Mouth. Oh, there is plenty of hedonism and plenty of hip-hop braggadocio on this 2011 release. But there is also an abundance of sobering introspection, and these Canadian rappers have a lot to say about things like severe depression, substance abuse, severe anxiety, and suicidal thoughts. Swollen Members don't run away from their demons on "Chemical Imbalance," "Fresh Air," "The Shining," or "Do or Die"; in fact, they take a very close look at them and don't hesitate to give the listener elaborate details. No doubt about it, Dagger Mouth can be an unapologetically dark album. Sometimes, Dagger Mouth becomes dark-humored ("The Predator" is one of the funnier tracks), but other times, the album is just plain dark. And while the beats and grooves are consistently funky, they also tend to be on the moody side -- which is quite appropriate given how manic-depressive Swollen Members' subject matter can be at times. Along the way, these Canadians have often been compared to Eminem, who is, in fact, an influence on Dagger Mouth. House of Pain and Cypress Hill are also prominent influences, but ultimately, Swollen Members project a twisted energy of their own. And in contrast to all the 21st century hip-hop CDs that are offering pure, nonstop escapism, Dagger Mouth demonstrates that there are still some MCs who aren't afraid to let their darker and more troubling emotions do the talking.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson