Friday, April 18, 2008

Hot Garbage

In this blog I harshly criticize a dead record by an independent MC. I usually avoid this kinda post, because struggling, starving artists don't need more negativity thrown at them - I'd much rather spotlight a dope or at least interesting record that hasn't gotten much attention... But this album annoyed me enough that I don't care, and more importantly: it answers the question "what's that album listed on your 3rd Bass page," which I've actually had 2 e-mails about.

This is the 2005 debut album by a guy named Hot Karl on Headless Horses Records, The Great Escape. I didn't know who he was, either. Like a year or so ago, I was googling around for some info on MC Serch's unreleased ridiculously titled M.any Y.oung L.ives A.go: The 1994 Sessions album (mp3-only doesn't count as released, you hear me, Serch? No vinyl is bad enough, but at least put out some CDs!)... and an EBay listing popped up for this album featuring MC Serch. So, I looked around and ordered it from Amazon for a penny (note the hole-punch in the scan). I listened to it once, updated my 3rd Bass page and put it away. Tonight, I've taken it out for my second listen and to blog about it.

So, it turns out Hot Karl is the guy on the left-hand side of the album cover holding the puppy. He's one of the billions of rappers who rap about how they're the only rapper who's against the "bling" clichés of hip-hop (hence the album cover). And he's all about pop culture punchlines. I actually realized when the CD arrived that I had heard Hot Karl before - he was on a DJ Rectangle 12" with Eminem called "You Must Be Crazy" with Dree. You could really stop the record after Eminem's verse, but Hot Karl was passable (and for the record, Dree was wack. So's the hook. Seriously, just download Em's 40-second verse onto your IPod).

Now I believe that track was originally meant to be on Hot Karl's debut album, Your Housekeeper Hates You. He was signed to Interscope and had a whole other album with appearances by people like Redman, Fabulous and Mya, which was shelved because the guy's essentially a novelty act (though a couple of the bigger guest spot tracks were white-labeled)... and Karl later put out the album, radio-blended into a mixCD called Industry Standards to promote The Great Escape. And I'm not one of those guys who says every white MC sounds like Eminem, but this guy really does sound exactly like an Eminem knock-off.

The album starts out with the MC Serch collaboration. It's a duet with Serch playing an A&R trying to talk Karl into selling out by "going jiggy," but Hot Karl stands firm for his principles. Karl makes some jokes about Serch's career, and it turns into a pure "Guilty Conscience" rip-off ("it's becoming obvious why Pete Nice kicked you out"). He's got songs like "Butter-face," which makes fun of ugly girls and of course he name dorps a lot of female celebrities, and "Kerk Gybson" a reminiscence (list) of 80's pop culture references, like Pac-Man and The Facts of Life sitcom (that one's even in the hook). "Suburban Superstar" is a horrible dance track all about how he's from the suburbs with one of many lame R&B choruses... it's like some horrible, ODB-less follow-up to Pras's "Ghetto Superstar" from the Bulworth soundtrack. "Back/Forth" is a song with a female MC named Boobie Poquito (no fooling) making 3rd grades jokes about his sexual prowess. His album is also full of skits, too, all "humorously" touting his artistic credibility, where an A&R tries to talk him into selling out in various ways and he stands firm. But it's hard to imagine anything more commercial and trite than the content he's already filled his Great Escape with.

All in all, the production on this album is super annoyingly poppy (though 9th Wonder provides one decent track towards the end), and full of cheesy hooks by studio singers. Each song and skit feels like they're playing to the same gimmicky image, and his snarky, jokey delivery will all make you wish bad things on him. A few of his punchlines are amusing, but mostly you get one random pop culture reference after another mixed with embarrassingly juvenile humor. In fact, while he's definitely doing the Eminem thing (I don't care what he says in interviews I've just googled; the man is borrowing from Em)... he's actually more along the lines of Tom Green or Jamie Kennedy. "Circle Circle Dot Dot" sounds like it was ripped straightoff this album.

The one plus side is that he wrote really nice liner notes talking about each song on the album... the anecdotes (did you know Ali Dee, who produced "Back/Forth" on this album was the voice yelling "Can't Truss It" on Public Enemy's single?) and explanations are fun and engaging, although the bit where he explains how two of the songs are inspired by David Lynch's Mulholland Drive is ridiculously pretentious. But for the most part they actually kinda make you like the guy and feel bad for hating the man's music so much.

And yeah, Hot Karl does have a myspace... there's a video up on it of his final performance, because he's quit hip-hop (no comment). He talks about how he started rapping as a gag (not news once you've heard his material) and makes a lot of punchlines about Interscope ("if you're not laughing, then you don't get the joke. And if you don't, then you should work for Interscope" etc). He does have a book he's selling, which - unsurprisingly - is a collection of 1980's pop culture references. It also lists his homepage as, but apparently it's a porn site now (so no link - type it into the browser yourself, pervs). ...Anyway, now you know what that last Serch guest-spot is.


  1. For the record, Hot Karl was signed to Interscope BEFORE Eminem was signed and he was their main priority until his project budget began to grow and once they signed Eminem it was a wrap for him. He had songs featured on an old version of EA's NBA Live series and his full story was told on the indie film "Dropped" available on Netflix. I love your blog, by the way.


  2. Ha ha - I am so Netflixing that!