Give the Drummer Some, the debut album by Blink-182 drummer, Travis Barker, has a lot of surprises, one of which is not the fact that Blink-182 drummer, Travis Barker, has made a hip-hop album. The guy’s been knocking elbows with rap types since 2007, when he made a “rock” remix of Flo Rida’s “Low” and has been expanding his contact network ever since with more remixes of increasingly higher profile artists, his tour with the late DJ AM and his performance on Lil Wayne’s 2010 shit sandwich, The Rebirth. With the Blink-182 tour completed and there being a lull until their reunion album comes out, Give the Drummer Some was the logical extent to which Barker was going to take all the connections he’d made in order to pass the time.
What’s most surprising about the album is that most of it is not a Rebirth re-hash. Songs like “Beat Goes On” and the opener, “Can a Drummer Get Some” (which actually features Lil’ Wayne), are laughable genre-hybrids, but a lot of the album leans toward traditional hip hop, Barker often ceding airtime from his live drums to artificial beats that are not just accompanied with synthesized guitars playing four-note riffs. “If You Want To” pops with pocket brass and live drums, “Cool Head” broods on an ominous bassline and “Devil’s Got a Hold” is such pitch-perfect late-90’s/early-00’s grit, it starves for an Eminem verse.
What’s also surprising about Give the Drummer Some is how very extensive Barker’s network of friends is and how good he is at building a beat around them that suits their personalities. The album’s most surprising cameos are Lupe Fiasco on “If You Want To” and RZA and Raekwon on “Carry It,” but Barker doesn’t attempt to force either to rap over the faux-rock that made the guy famous in this field. In fact, the beat of “If You Want To” sounds more like traditional Lupe Fiasco than the guy’s latest album, Lasers. The beat of “Cool Head” fits Kid Cudi’s drawl excellently, even if the guy’s actual verses are just as face-palm worthy as anything off The Legend of Mr. Rager (“So menstrual psychology / Tamponic” Are you fucking kidding me?). “Let’s Go” has the why-hasn’t-this-happened-before appeal of having fast-talkers Busta Rhymes and Twista in the same song. Yelawolf’s the newest in this lineage, and his verse is really good, adhering to the straightforward flow he implemented on his debut with no cringeworthy lines to be heard.
Give the Drummer Some is not without its fair share of messes, Ludacris’s irrelevance-confirming verse in “Knockin’” and Tim Armstrong’s painfully awkward hook in “Saturday Night” coming immediately to mind. Overall, the performances of all the artists ranges from adequate to pretty good, and it’s a pleasant surprise to say that this is the best thing to come out of the Barker cannon in nearly a decade (And yes I’m counting Meet the Barkers. Remember that shit?) While not as good as most of the Blink-182 discography, Give the Drummer Some is a solid release with some legitimately good highlights. If anything, it’s a testament to the versatility of a member of one of the most wrongly castigated artists of the ‘90’s and a justification for all the shameful diversions Barker’s gone on in the past.