|Personnel: Hush (rap vocals); Eminem, Lo Down, Nate Dogg, Talib Kweli, Bareda, Bizarre, Kuniva, Swifty McVay (rap vocals).
|Whether it is on his own or with his crew Da Ruckus, rapper Hush has been in the game since 1993. There are 12 long years of hard work and missed opportunities -- including a one-year federal prison sentence for robbery -- leading up to his debut, and the hungry Bulletproof sounds like an album that's been itching to bust out for over a decade, sometimes to a fault. One more reflective number would have fleshed out Hush's character more, but Bulletproof isn't so much about looking back as it is forward, along with living in the now. The "living in the now" part comes from worthy club numbers like the Jay-Z-flavored "Let It Breathe" and the very Eminem "Off to Tijuana," which not only features D12 but also sounds like it could have fallen off their last album. D12 member Bizarre guests on "Real T.V." and declares it "real Detroit ghetto sh*t," which the track most certainly is, but the album as a whole is put together with an attitude that's less gutter. Skit-free and with a tight track list, Bulletproof is concise and out to prove something, almost to the point that it's demanding classic status. The reason to gripe so much about the flow is that taken one by one, the tracks are very good, sometimes excellent, and always vivid. Hush's mixtape past could have helped the flow of an album that's "eye of the tiger" one minute and "I'm a playboy" the next, but if he needs to get these disjointed bangers out to make way for his grand, cohesive full-length, so be it. His guitar-filled street music is tough and deep, and if there's a Detroiter who can unite the Shadyville, Kid Rock, and Twiztid camps, it's the multi-faceted Hush. Bulletproof doesn't quite figure out the best way to present the talented rapper, but it's a problem debuts from lesser hip-hoppers wish they were burdened with. ~ David Jeffries