Monday, September 17, 2012

Royal Renegades Week, Day 2 - MC Boo and the Crew

I almost bought this album when it was new. I was on vacation with my family, driving to Florida, and we stopped at some Southern in-between state - forget which one now - and I saw a music store specializing in rap and hip-hop in the phone book at the hotel.  Of course I made my parents swing by, and it was like this little house, full of mostly cheap mixtapes.  Behind the counter, I saw MC Boo and the Crew, and I remember asking the guy if that could possibly be McBooo from BDP. And he was just like: nah, this is just some wack Miami bass shit; you don't want that. So I left without it. It happened that one of the tapes I'd brought with me on the trip was the first DJ Magic Mike and the Royal Posse album, and in the car I'm looking at the liner notes and I see MC Boo! Well, by that point it was too late to go back and I didn't get this album until many, many years later, when I finally ordered it from Amazon as an adult, filling the little gaps in my collection.

Honestly, I wasn't missing all that much over the years. I mean, it's not bad. But you see that blurb on the front cover? "THE BEST BASS ALBUM EVER RECORDED...!" Well, yeah, it's not that.

You would think the biggest issue would be the loss of Magic's production, and yeah... the production is weaker. Still okay, but weaker. But the most disappointing aspect is MC Boo. After "We're On a Mission," I expected more from him. He's not terrible or anything, but he's just... generic. Average. Good enough to get by without embarrassing himself, but never saying anything slick or compelling or kicking a delivery that stands out at all. Same with the production.

Now, at this point you may be asking, "who is The Crew?" No, there's not another team of junior MCs on hand or anything. It seems to just be referring to his DJ, Ray Swift, T. Isaam and the Ocean Records production team. The DJ, in fact, is the real star of this album. Even though they left Magic, they still had somebody on hand who could provide some really nice cuts, which definitely breath some energy into an otherwise dull album.

Unlike MC Madness, T. Isaam, and even Jan Hrkach or DJ Lace, MC Boo hadn't been working on Mike's albums since the first one. He'd been out of the picture for a few years. So, in a way, this is a bit of a comeback for him (which he raps about on one of the strongest cuts on here, the opener "Freeze"). But it also means that he doesn't seem to share the same hostility towards Mike or Cheetah Records, so there are no diss cuts. There is one song with a line about how he "used to kick rhymes with my so-called friends," which seems like it might be a Royal Posse reference, but the song's about how he grew up as a hustling youth, so he could just be talking about kids he went to school with or something. He's basically going for a "I'll just do my thing," live and let live career move here, which is respectable. But on a generally plain, disappointing album like this, a diss or any kind of statement with stakes would've gone a long way towards making this interesting at least.

A bigger part of the problem is that, despite this being an MC Boo album, a bunch of the tracks on here are strictly instrumental, so Boo's not even involved. Frankly, that shit bores me on Mike's albums, and when your production is weaker than Mike's... yawnsville. One song features a big sax solo instead of vocals, which is interesting on paper, but in practice, it's just not enough to hold a whole song together. At least not when the rest of the track is so flat. And we get a song called "Bangle Sluts" on side 1 and "Bangle Sluts (Re-Mix)" on side 2. First of all, the song's alright I guess, but it's definitely not compelling enough to warrant two versions on the same album. Secondly, the Re-Mix is actually just the instrumental.

Amazingly - and I don't mean "amazingly" in a hyperbolic way, my mind was literally blown by this when I first heard it - one song, at the end of side one, consists of nothing but a loop of a ticking clock for several minutes. Not even a bass hum! Yet, bizarrely, it's titled "Back To the Bass." I mean, if you were looking a moment that perfectly emblematizes everything that's wrong with this album, here you go.

Again, though, don't get me wrong. If you're a Royal Posse completist, this album has moments that will at least get a pass... Some decent samples, and again, it comes to life when Ray Swift gets on the tables (primarily the DJ cut "Go Crazy"). Wisely, "Freeze" was the single, b/w a boring but passable instrumental called "Let the Bass Go," which actually doesn't have much of a deep bassline. "Kickin' Rhymes To the Rhythm" would've been a better choice, it's actually the best song on here, with a funky sample, nice drums, killer scratches, and a naturalistic emphasis on Boo's rhymes.

But things are about to heat up in Royal Renegades week, as tomorrow we unleash the Madness...

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