Ich & Meine Maske

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Sido's third solo album, Ich und Meine Maske, finds him at his best, often putting aside ferocity in favor of cleverness, humor, and pop smarts. Make no mistake, Sido remains a hardcore rapper. Threats of violence, vivid depictions of sex, and ghetto motifs are still bountiful on Ich und Meine Maske. But these hardcore motifs are employed in an entertaining manner that is more fascinating than frightening. For example, the Top Ten lead single, "Augen Auf" -- like the Top 20 hit single "Schlechtes Vorbild" before it -- plays upon Sido's reputation as a bad influence upon the youth of Germany; most amusingly, the song features a choir of children on the singalong chorus. Moreover, a couple songs -- most notably "Carmen" and "Nein!" -- aren't frightening at all, relying upon Sido's satirical talents rather than the darker corners of his imagination. The first of the two, "Carmen" is an '80s dance-pop throwback that doubles as a tongue-in-cheek love song, and even better, it's incredibly appealing, boasting a catchy, melodic chorus and a spot-on production. The second, "Nein!" is a funny duet with German pop singer Doreen Steinert (formerly of the group Nu Pagadi) in which Sido's romantic advances get rejected. While these three standout songs display Sido's most appealing qualities -- his cleverness, humor, and pop smarts -- other sides of his character are showcased elsewhere on Ich und Meine Maske. Sequenced early in the album, "Halt Dein Maul" and "Ich und Meine Maske" play to his personal mystique as the man in the mask, while "Herz," "Schule," and "Danke" find him turning serious. Plus, it wouldn't be an Aggro Berlin album without a roll call of guest features, the best of which here are "Pack Schlägt Sich" (featuring Azad), "Strip für Mich" (Kitty Kat), and "Aggrokalypse" (B-Tight, Fler, Kitty Kat). These Aggro Berlin guest features also happen to be the most hardcore tracks on Ich und Meine Maske. Consequently, one wonders if perhaps Sido the solo artist has begun to put aside ferocity in favor of his more appealing qualities as showcased on album standouts "Augen Auf," "Carmen," and "Herz," letting his labelmates dish out the more explicit material one expects from Aggro Berlin. One might hope so, for Sido's such an inventive rapper, it's a shame to see him confined by the often narrow boundaries of hardcore rap.

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