Top critical review
9 people found this helpful
Rage against "Man Vs. Machine"
on April 18, 2005
This album was literally collecting dust in my collection. It's been reduced to a cardboard box along with a mess load of albums that I simply don't listen to. That's not to say there aren't some incredible tracks on here, but they play better in a mix and not along with the rest of Man Vs. Machine. Xzibit's lyrics are on par with "Restless" and Dre again handles executive production on this album, so what could possibly be bad, right?
Dre actually DOES NOT produce the best track on the album "Multiply". It sounds like classic Dre material, and even the Amazon editor was fooled enough to think it's Dre, but instead we have Denaun (frequent d12 producer) bringing this killer beat. The Dr. does provide one of the best songs later on with "Losin' Your Mind", where Snoop plays hype man for X to the Z's nice verses. It was a nice though to hook up M.O.P. with Xzibit on "BK to LA", but the track would have been much better served with a grimy sounding street production from Primo.
Em provides some nice production for the Jermaine Dupri diss track "My Name Is". Sure it fails in comparison to "Say What You Say" or even Xzibit's freestyle and in all honestly the beef with Aftermath vs. Dupri has to be the most lopsided battle ever; nevertheless the track is more than welcome.
"The Gambler" has a catchy beat and chorus from Anthony Hamilton and while it's not your typical Xzibit track, it works well. Erick Sermon returns to help out Mr. X on "Right On" which is one of top three tracks on here. Xzibit has a really nice flow here, switching up and going double time for half of the song.
In general the album really has way too many mediocre to bad tracks. It's surprising because Xzibit really NEVER lets up when it comes to the lyrics. Even in denial, it seems you actually have to blame the organization and production missteps on the Executive producer: Dr. Dre.
The slow prodding "Release Date" really doesn't capture X's intensity, nor is exactly the best track to open an album with. "Symphony in X major" has to be one of the weakest Dre beats ever heard. If that wasn't enough, Dre makes things worse by getting on the track and rapping about how great his production credits are. On any other track this might work, but when Dre falters so much here with the beat, it doesn't help to brag. It's really not that bad, just disappointing for Dre. Although he recovers with the slightly repetitive beat for "Choke Me Spank Me", Xzibit tries to sing and flow DJ Quick style. It works ok, but the stupid chorus brings makes the track even less listenable.
The quick paced beat on "Break Yourself" really allows X to shine and switch up the flow, but it's unfortunate that the beat is also horrible. Not only does "Heart of Man" sample Toto, not only does it sound like absolute crap, but it was already used EXACTLY like this by JA Rule!! It just doesn't get any worse than that. Despite all these factors Xzibit actually drops some quality lines, but even the most classic verse couldn't salvage this. The Golden State crew track drops some unbelievable lyrics on "Harder" (most curtsey of Ras Kass), but again the terrible Jellyroll production is only outdone by the sillya** chorus.
Xzibit's touching lyrics on "Missin' U" are ruined by the bland production, cliché chorus and awkward sound effects (spaceships, distorted r&B whaling and others). "B**** A** N*****" is a follow up Eddie Griffin speech to "Ed-Ucation" from 2001, except it's not funny and is basically just random ranting. Xzibit's first falter lyrically is on "Enemies", but you can't blame him because the beat is awful. Literally one element of the song is random banging on the piano.
The bonus CD is easily the best part of the album (although at the time it was billed as a "Limited Edition" bonus, it seems like it's included anyway now). "My Life, My World" is a pretty solid track, and different from the typical Xzibit track. Although, its not different in the fact that he tears up the track ("The game is vicious constant hostile conditions/ For the times I dropped jewels and nobody would listen/ A new position, got a couple of pots to piss in/ Got the aim of Oswald, n**** I ain't missin'/ If everybody eating' who the f*** gone clean the kitchen"). The Rockwilder produced "(Hit U) Where It Hurts" is better than 85% of the rest of the tracks on Man Vs. Machine. Finally "What A Mess" is not just one of Xzibit's best songs EVER, it's also one of DJ Premier's best... EVER. For Primo fans, this track alone is worth the 12 bucks admission. Thanks to whoever for that bonus disc, curse Dre from not putting those songs on the album and taking off some of the weak ones (his own included).
No one can really fault the lyrics of Xzibit on this one, although at times he doesn't sound as on point as he always has, but he certainly hasn't lost a step. It's painfully obvious that the production and organization of this album is a complete mess. It still shocks me that Dre was the Exec producer, but then again Dre did drop the ball on a couple of projects at this time (Hittman, Rakim, King Tee to name a few). Still, as much of a perfectionist that Dre is, it's hard to believe he released this. Xzibit was clearly disappointed with Dre's involvement as well, seeing as Dre is no where to be found on his new effort "Weapons of Mass Destruction".
There are 6 vintage X tracks, and 2 or 3 others that are enjoyable. But, it can't make up for the other 10 that are just disappointing and at times flat out suck. While the great songs might balance out the bad and might make it worth it to pick up, don't expect Man Vs. Machine to live up to X's previous standards or the standards of a decent rap album.