Unrelated to this record, the other day my editor-in-chief vented off something like this:
“People who live in an unreal world like that just need to be smacked with reality because they’re so awful nobody else will even review their shit and they just go on thinking that the tape/CD/album got lost in the mail. See what I mean? We become their first encounter with reality, and then LIFE GETS HARD. They either have to continue living in denial afterwards, get their heads out of the sand and start improving the raps, or quit altogether.”
If you’ve followed the OHHLA review section and later RapReviews, you might be familiar with the name 101st Airbourne Productions. The music they put out has not exactly found favor in the eyes of our reviewers. As a matter of fact, I am the only one who hasn’t trashed them completely. Let me make one thing clear: we don’t shit on albums for the sole purpose of amusing our readers. That would be grossly unfair towards the musicians who submit their work. While a profound review might take its time, the time spent can’t compare to the efforts it takes to record an album full of songs. Sometimes, however, these very efforts might just be in vain. In April ’99, reviewer Flash told MC AK & Kane:
“I understand the enthusiasm for wanting to become a part of the rap music scene, but there is a point where people should step to their boys and say, “You ain’t dope, you’re never gonna be dope, so stop embarassing yourself.” Somebody forgot to tell AK and Kane.”
Four months later, Fatboy summed up a venomous review in one sentence:
“All you gotta do is stop. You’d be doing hip hop a favor.”
It’s 2002, and MC AK and Kane are still at it. And guess what – they’re still wack. There is really no other way to put it. By all hip-hop standards, “Tha HurriKANE” is a wack rap record. During the first three or four bars of the opening title track, you think Kane is going to make it, he’s kinda on beat, but then he starts to swerve and you know you’re in for a nerve-wrecking ride with “Tha HurriKANE”. And his co-pilot MC AK (who appears on most of the tracks) can’t save him either.
Neither can the tracks. They have figured the basics out, it seems, occasionally they will even come up with something original like “What”, where they introduce a whole new set of sounds not heard before in hip-hop. On songs like “On tha 1st Date”, “Kickin’ It” or “We Wicked” they have a solid musical foundation to rap over, “Break Ya Like Glass” and “Burnin'” are even unexpected leaps in production quality. But it’s clear that their music won’t help them win any prizes. It’s not music you would put on just for the simple joy music brings.
The same goes for the rappers. I honestly can’t think of anybody who would want to listen to Kane and MC AK. At the root of it all is the inability to sound convincing, in the most basic sense. They can’t convince the listener that they are rappers. They may talk halfway rhythmically, they rhyme, but that’s about it. Everything that exceeds the most simple definition of a ‘rapper’ is just not within the realm of their possibilities. You could say they DO rap, but they CAN’T rap. Their biggest problem may be inflection. Kane and AK emphasize every single world because they don’t know where to put the emphasis on. As if it wasn’t enough that they fail to meet the minimum requirements to be rappers, they also don’t know how to brag, how to tell a story, how to diss, how to argue. Sure, there are plenty of MC’s babbling nonsense. But at least they do it with some style. And while others don’t have that style, they have a least substance. Not so the personel of 101st Airbourne Productions. “Pain” has a bunch of them discussing “what is pain,” but it sounds terribly artificial. That is not to say that the pain they express is not real, they just lack the artistic ability to make us feel their pain.
It goes on. Despite it being a Kane solo album called “Tha HurriKANE”, you wouldn’t know that from listening to this album. “Tha HurriKANE” is not a Kane album, it’s not even a ‘album’. It doesn’t sound like one. What it does sound like is 101st Airbourne Productions lecturing on wackness, leading by example. There’s no concept, no cohesion, no coherence, no nothing. You would think that with “12 fuckin’ full-fledged albums” under their belt (as they brag in “Break Ya Like Glass”) they’d have some experience in making an album sound interesting, worthwhile, a valuable addition to a rapper’s resume.
Also, it seems absurd that you could have well executed and funny skits like the “Jim Dipshit” inserts, but not be able to extend that cleverness to the rest of the album. Wait – there’s always the possibility that this is parody, right? Unfortunately it isn’t. You’ll live through some hilarious moments with these two, like when AK yells, “my wife cheated on me,” and Kane replies, “me you can blame.” Or when Kane gives this demonstration of the level of discussion on this CD: “I was raised in Miami – what’s up with all the snow? / Why people like this shit, I’ll never know.” Or when Double C says, “we ain’t tryin’ to make money, this is all for fun” and you just wonder: you can’t possibly have fun being wack!? AK even bigs up Biz and “the rest of the Juice Crew who knew how to flow.” Yeah, remember? Or check out this little gem: “Never heard the K flow switch it up like this / like Jordan’s comeback your album’s gonna miss.” Something tells me you shouldn’t try to expose your opponent by comparing him to Michael Jordan.
Not all hope is lost though. With Youngman they got one guy that’s halfway decent. “Goin’ Off” is one long posse cut that pays a little tribute to Hurricane’s “Comin’ Off” posse cut from 1994. “Kickin’ It” has some nice singing on it. “On tha 1st Date” is kinda okay for a “I wanna fuck on the first date” song. And “Break Ya Like Glass” and “Gawkers” are amped enough to make their anger sound real. I guess after always being on the receiving end (despite “runnin’ this fuckin’ underground since 1996,” as they see it), they are entitled to a little aggravation. I mean, it’s still all wack, but they do have a point when saying that at least they are productive. I’m sure their parents think they’re great. But for you and me, this threat will become all too true: “Kane and AK / and if we find you we will ruin your day…”