The Lazarus Project

Gym Class Heroes frontman changes name, not much else.

Travie McCoy


Released on Jun 15, 2010


Let’s just get this out of the way first: Travie McCoy? Is there really a reason that the artist formerly known as Travis needed the name change? This isn’t just a pissy gripe, though. The frontman of Gym Class Heroes could easily have used the cred accrued from his work with that act, and though I truly hate saying this, there are people who are going to be really confused by the minor deviation.

Enough of that, now. I’m glad I mentioned GCH upfront, because a solid 50% of Lazarus sounds like one of their albums. Those tracks, such as McCoy’s duet with Cee-Lo Green on “Dr. Feel Good” don’t fall too far from the tree; they’re fun summer jams to be enjoyed by the Shwayze crowd and more or less disposed of post-Labor Day. When McCoy is at his worst, he’s remarkably gimmicky, and at times it pops up on his pet project. As if the now-token T-Pain cameo wasn’t enough, there’s “Superbad (11:34),” which makes the terribly ill-advised  stylistic choice of combining a guitar lick straight out of the nu-metal era with a drum machine beat, with some deeply unconvincing chest-beating verses sprinkled on top.

If Lazarus really proves anything, it’s that McCoy is actually a deft MC when he’s running hot. “Akidagain” is probably the best rapping he’s done to date, as it takes the summer-nostalgia tale that’s been done to death and does it with a refreshing lack of self-deprecation, irony or kid’s-made-good knuckle-pounding. There’s a total sincerity to some of the tracks on Lazarus that’s missing in music as a whole lately. “Billionaire,” the record’s first single, starts off with a terrible first line (“I wanna be a billionaire/So fucking bad”), but ends up as one of the sweeter rap songs in some time, as McCoy channels a typical rap verse about one’s use of money but espouses his desires to use it for beneficial adoption and other general forms of philanthropy.

He’s also managed a couple of genuine bangers in “After Midnight” and “Need You,” but these and a lot of the rest of the album bring up a valid question: Why do a solo project if about 80% of it sounds like your main band? This isn’t the worst case of it (I still get a cold chill recalling Serj Tankian’s solo show), but aside from some dabbling in melody and a slightly chunkier general tone, the wheel is far from being reinvented here. The other troubling fact is that Travis McCoy is a pop writer, and sometimes a pretty damn good one. When he tries to bring things down and get serious, as with the album closer “Don’t  
Pretend,” it’s at best impossible to take him seriously, and on that track, at worst his verses sound like the journal musings of a teenager.

If McCoy really wants to pursue solo work, Lazarus is a good if mostly immediately forgettable first step. He’s really stepped it up as an MC, but therein lies the challenge: He started as a talented songwriter and a middling MC, but now the reverse is true. If he finds that happy medium, good things could maybe just happen.

High Point

McCoy steps outside his comfort zone pretty frequently here, and sometimes hits the mark…

Low Point

…but more often either misses it or sticks to the music he was already making with Gym Class Heroes, which begs the question of why he broke off in the first place.

Posted by Dominick Mayer on Aug 03, 2010 @ 8:20 pm

travie mccoy, lazarus, gym class heroes