The following editorial was written by Tyler Treese and does not reflect the views of WrestleZone as a whole. Feel free to chime in on our Enzo Amore album review in the comments below.
A debut album should tell you about an artist. One of the reasons why Illmatic was such a successful album was because it gave listeners an incredible look into the mind and worldview of Nas in just 40 minutes. However, after listening to the entirety of Rosemary’s Baby Pt. 1: Happy Birthday several times, I can’t tell you anything about Eric Arndt or nZo, which is the latest moniker that the former Enzo Amore is going under.
Before going into the album itself, I think it’s important to remember why Enzo Amore was a successful professional wrestler in the first place. He became a fan favorite thanks to his incredible charisma and unique look. While his promos never were exceptionally clever and sometimes didn’t make much sense when examined closely, they were always extremely fun in the moment. This was due to them being delivered with gusto, and Amore keeping the crowd entertained during the entire time. He also sold injuries during matches in an extremely entertaining manner as he played the underdog role fantastically.
So, it’s not such a huge leap for Arndt, who was known for his writing and delivery, to go into rap music. However, expectations are different here. With no physical pay-off and no crowd interaction, fans are left to only focus on his writing ability and delivery. Rap has a long history of great lyricists, and nZo certainly doesn’t deliver in that regard. While he was a clever promo, there aren’t complex rhyme schemes to be found here. He’s not a musician that has studied the artistry that goes into songwriting, and it doesn’t seem to come naturally to him. Nothing found here will be confused for Kendrick Lamar, and it shows that having the occasional good line during a performance doesn’t mean you can craft compelling music
Production & Delivery
It would be completely ridiculous to act as if lyricism is the end-all be-all when it comes to rap music. There has been a trend towards production and cadence being more important than having something important to say. It’s the reason why Playboi Carti, as he wonderfully said on “R.I.P.” off of Die Lit, was able to buy “a crib for mama, off that mumblin’ shit.” As proven in the past, Arndt is more clever with the pen than a few popular artists, but sadly the production on Rosemary’s Baby Pt. 1: Happy Birthday is as generic as a rap album can come.
Looking at the composition credits of the project, people will see the name Foreign Teck all over it. While he’s produced a few high-profile songs, the producer is best known for ripping off several beats and drums from the producer Vinylz. If this is the best he can do as far as original compositions, then it’s no wonder that he has to ride the waves of more successful beat makers. There’s no unique sound to be found here, and it’s a largely boring listen to anyone familiar with rap.
The best parts of the album come when nZo really gets into the delivery. His more energetic tracks, such as “Brass Ring” and “201,” have him commanding the listener’s attention by either screaming or using a more raspy voice. Similar to a Tekashi 6ix9ine, nZo could potentially make a few bangers if he was paired with more interesting production and carried this energy into more songs. He also provides some interesting vocal inflections throughout the project, and while it doesn’t always create great music, it does lend itself to creating a more unique sound, which is very appreciated.
Trying To Be Deep
A lot of the album’s issues can be summed up on the track “Liv a 30 For 30.” After giving a faux-deep intro about how difficult life on the road is, nZo then kicks off the song with the line, “There’s layers to this shit, yeah, tiramisu.” By itself, it seems like a semi-clever line talking about how fans only see a glimpse of what wrestlers deal with. However, it’s completely lifted from the song “Downtown” by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis. There isn’t much to be said on this album, and anything that is potentially interesting has been seen elsewhere.
Many of the tracks are either built around Tony Robbins-type platitudes about positive thinking. Songs like “Live a Little, Laugh a Lot,” are all about enjoying life and being grateful. It’s not the most unique topic, but it’s one where the author can dig deeper and reflect upon their own lives. Sadly, that’s what this album is missing. Rather than nZo going in-depth about why he enjoys life or how he’s overcame obstacles, he simply just tells the listener that they should “live a little” repeatedly and that they should realize that “their water is wine.” A song like J. Cole’s “Love Yourz” touches on similar territory, but it deals with both his come-up on the scene and how success doesn’t magically solve the personal demons of a person. After listening to a heartfelt track like that, I feel as if I’ve connected with the artist. There were no such breakthroughs here.
The worst moments are when nZo tries to preach to the audience. It comes across as corny, and, while I’m sure there were good intentions, he doesn’t have anything all that profound to say about the topics he brings up. On “Real1,” he tries to tell listeners about equality. “Straight, woman, black, tan, white, man, trans, or gay,” says Arndt over a laid back beat. “‘Cause in the words of Marvin Gaye: ‘War is not the answer only love can conquer hate.'” Somehow I don’t think this is going to “educate the youth,” as he says he wants to do in the song.
The lack of any features also hurts the project. There aren’t any great hooks here, and he can’t really carry a full 40-minute project by himself. Seeing him play off the energy of other rappers could have been a lot more entertaining than what we got. After all, nZo has a natural charisma to him, and as a former professional hype-man, it’d be potentially fun to see what kind of natural chemistry he’d have with some more established artists.
So, ultimately people have an album that doesn’t provide bangers to wild out to, and doesn’t have anything interesting to say. It’s not a success in any measurable way. If Arndt continues down this road, and it truly is a passion for him rather than just an attempt at making some money, then I hope he reflects more. He actually has quite the interesting life story to tell, and actually opening up about his wrestling career through music would at least be more interesting than his generic attempts at riding the current rap wave.
Best Tracks: Realest Outro, 201, Brass Ring
Worst Tracks: Real1, Liv a 30 for 30, Copy & Paste