Berlin hardcore rapper Sido broke into the mainstream with his full-length solo debut album, Maske (2004), and its lead single, "Mein Block." And deservedly so, for among all of the hardcore rappers fighting for commercial success in Germany, none was as fascinating as Sido. On his debut album in particular, he infused his dark, often perverse lyrical themes with a playful dose of cleverness, humor, and mystique -- not unlike The Slim Shady LP (1999-era Eminem, to whom he was frequently compared). How does a hardcore rapper, someone who charted most curiously with a song about anal sex (a song whose title couldn't even be printed in full on the singles chart on which it rose to number 63), follow up his mainstream breakthrough debut album? In the case of Sido, he returns harder than ever, putting aside some of his more affable characteristics in favor of ghetto ferocity, and he brings a gang of fellow hardcore rappers with him, seven of them Aggro Berlin labelmates. Opening the album with bombast, the first two songs of Ich, "Goldjunge" and "Strassenjunge," strike forcefully; they find Sido basking in his newfound celebrity while at the same time showcasing his hardcore credentials, from his street upbringing (the title "Strassenjunge" translating roughly to "Child of the Streets" in English) to his ability to rap as hard as anyone in Germany. Following this opening onslaught, Sido begins to showcase his cleverness, starting with "Schlechtes Vorbild"; the album's most infectious song, driven by a standout production, the song addresses the persona of Sido and why he's a "bad role model" (as the title translates). Other thoughtful moments on Ich include "Ein Teil von Mir," a surprisingly sincere and emotionally infused slow song about his son, and "Ich Kiff Nicht Mehr," a half-serious song about giving up drugs. While there are plenty of highlights in addition to these standout songs, Ich is sometimes weakened by the roll call of Aggro Berlin guest features. Some of the collaborations, in particular "Strassenjunge" (with Alpha Gun), "Ficken" (Kitty Kat), and "A.i.d.S. 2007" (B-Tight), are great -- some, but certainly not all of them. Like so many rap albums, Ich simply carries on for far too long, clocking in at 22 tracks in total. With about five less songs, it would be excellent. As it is, it's generally great but also spotty, and unlike on Maske, the lesser songs aren't sequenced late but instead pop up throughout the album.
AllMusic Review by Jason Birchmeier
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