The Midwest is the one region of the U.S. that -- unlike the Northeast, South and West Coast -- hasn't had a lot of well-known rappers. One hardcore rapper who created a buzz on Detroit's rap scene of the late 1980s was Awesome Dre', who showed some potential on his debut album, You Can't Hold Me Back. This CD is a bit uneven, and at times, Dre' sounds like he's being inflammatory just to get a reaction. For example, he rails against fellow rappers L.L. Cool J and Kool Moe Dee without really articulating what he has against them. But the Motor City native does have an appealing flow and a lot of spirit, and he uses his gut-level emotion advantageously on riveting cuts like "Frankly Speaking" (which decries censorship), "Committing Rhymes" and "Sackchasers," a denunciation of materialistic women. "Sackchasers" isn't misogynist, as some claimed, but it does put golddiggers in their place. Dre' comes across as someone who has the guts to be himself -- instead of emulating East or West Coast rap styles, Dre' makes it clear that he's quite happy to represent Detroit. Nationally, however, he didn't receive much attention.
You Can't Hold Me Back Review
by Alex Henderson