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Critical Voices: Travis Barker, Give the Drummer Some
It’s hard to think of Give the Drummer Some, the solo debut from Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker, as a product of the man who helped craft the sound of one of the most quintessential pop-punk bands of the late 1990s and early 2000s. Instead of Blink’s power chords and whiny vocals, the drummer’s solo effort is a rap-rock project, packed with A-list vocals and production—with the latter category including Barker’s own talent. While the album lacks consistency, it displays Barker at his best, showcasing his undeniably brilliant drumming skills while blending his own sound with the distinctive styles of his featured artists.
Barker has never been shy about baring the hip-hop influences in his drumming. Long before GTDS, he had been featured in remixes and collaborations with rap artists from Kanye West to Soulja Boy. For his own album, Barker recruited a host of hip-hop vocal talent, including Lil Wayne, Rick Ross, Lupe Fiasco, Raekwon, and Cypress Hill.
To best spotlight Barker’s drumming talent, the album varies musically—the more energetic guest vocalists, like Lupe on “If You Want To,” occasionally push the beats to the background, and his most impressive drum solos are usually pushed to the intros or margins of tracks. However, the wide variety of rap styles featured on the album gives Travis the chance to show off his drumming versatility, as he skillfully adjusts tempo and rhythm to complement the numbed verbalizing of Kid Cudi on “Cool Head” or the fast-paced and frenetic “Let’s Go,” fronted by Busta Rhymes and Lil Jon.
Unfortunately, the impressive ensemble of featured artists sometimes works against the album. Barker’s production isn’t enough to reconcile the stylistic differences between tracks. He doesn’t do himself any service by introducing guitarists like Tom Morello and Tim Armstrong into the mix, which makes the album’s more rock-oriented tracks, like “Carry It,” contribute to the inconsistent, compilation-esque feel.
However, the album succeeds more often than not, and Barker offers several hit-worthy tracks, including the mellow “Knockin” (with a hook by Dev), which combines Barker’s well-blended beats with drug-reference-addled lyrics like “my shit rocks like Lindsay Lohan.” Tracks like this one, along with several exquisite drum solos highlighted in songs like “Devil’s Got a Hold of Me,” certainly do give Travis “some,” and show why he is—and deserves to be—one of most sought after drummers working today.
Voice’s Choices: “Can a Drummer Get Some”, “Knockin”, “Devil’s Got a Hold of Me”, “Cool Head”