The genesis of Mac Lethal's new album reads like a classic struggle between art and commerce. After years of annihilating the competition at Scribble Jam, the Kansas City MC signed to Rhymesayers in 2005. His mother had died the previous year, and he turned in an album full of poignant, angry songs titled 11:11, but Rhymesayers didn't go for it. So Lethal crafted an entirely new album full of more saleable frat rap. It's still called 11:11, but it has almost nothing in common with the original effort — which isn't to say it's not worthwhile. Lethal's intense focus recalls Eminem, and the album is bookended by a pair of heartfelt tracks: "Backward" and "Sunstorm," the latter a gentle ode to his home town. If the entire effort were this sincere, we'd have a classic on our hands. Instead we have aggressive, pop-culture-heavy pseudo-anthems like "Jihad!" and "Pound That Beer" (seriously). Lethal would have you believe he rewrote the album to help himself move on from his mother's death, and perhaps that's true. But listeners would have benefited more from his first draft.
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