Turns out, it’s mostly for worse. Both discs are constructed around the same premise: Take a virtuoso, non-singing musician and surround him with a constellation of guest artists who will do the talking for him. But unlike the slightly dumber, much more entertaining “Slash,” “Drummer” is sprawling and messy, its genre-hopping collection of spotlight-hogging stars waging a war of one-upmanship that doesn’t end well.
Every track offers a bumper crop of truly impressive rock and rap heavyweights, stars from the glory days (Tom Morello, various Wu-Tangers) and the future (Kid Cudi, the Clipse). But none of the songs feels connected to any of the other songs — even guest stars on the same track don’t connect with each other. Everybody postures, everybody spits past each other, and “Drummer” winds up seeming more like a really loud, really well-executed, really hollow video-game soundtrack than a studio solo debut.
“Drummer” does a nice job of reflecting Barker’s longtime interests in rap and punk. Barker plays in the beloved punk-hop group the Transplants, who show up on “Saturday Night,” which also features Slash and sounds like an update of “The Game of Love,” the hit by I-can’t-sing-but-I’m-making-an-album-with-vocals-anyway pioneer Carlos Santana. Who says punk rockers are incapable of irony?
Otherwise, “Drummer” focuses on rap-rock collaborations, and some of them are excellent (such as the tightly coiled “If You Want To,” featuring an atypically rapid-fire guest turn from Lupe Fiasco, or the Cypress Hill instant nostalgia exercise “Beat Goes On”). Others, such as the Raekwon/Morello/RZA collaboration “Carry It,” are one guitar solo away from placement on Lil Wayne’s “Rebirth II: The Re-Rebirth.”
Recommended tracks: “If You Want To,” “Beat Goes On”