Rap’s history is full of gimmicks. Since rapping requires less technical skill voice-wise than singing it is easier for anybody to cut a record that is listenable. Kid rappers tend to be rap’s most recurring and successful gimmick acts but everyone from aging wrestlers to entire football teams have given rap a try at some point. The Former Fat Boys are the latest gimmick group to hit the scene, albeit with very little fanfare. The problem with the Former Fat Boys is twofold. First, they aren’t very talented as is the case with most gimmick acts making this album completely irrelevant to any rap fan. Second, their gimmick isn’t good enough to motivate anyone else to peep the album even out of curiosity. Actually, truth be told their gimmick isn’t entirely clear even to myself. They were on an MTV show which I’ve never seen nor heard of. The vanity of being on MTV is combined with the fact that these guys aren’t really rappers or seemingly rap fans. The bio states they became a full fledged rap group by accident. Starting out as a rock band with even less talent, they pursued rap full time when a joke rap song became more popular than any of their rock songs ever were. So you’re left with a group which fell into rap accidentally and who sees it as a joke mainly.
Not taking yourself seriously isn’t a bad thing and probably is needed more often in the rap game. Guys like J-Zone have built careers around rap that is both funny and extreme in a sense. The difference between J-Zone and the Former Fat Boys is the fact that the Former Fat Boys aren’t funny and they lack any authenticity in the rap game. The intro proclaims that there will be both serious and non-serious material on the album but I found it impossible to distinguish between the two. The first track is your run of the mill “love” song with a beat that isn’t too bad. But the title, “Makeoutparty” makes it hard to take the song seriously and any semblance of legitimate music is lost when the horrendous falsetto hook comes in. “Hodown” is also another track where I’m not too sure where the group was trying to make a club track or make fun of club tracks. “Ice Ice Baby” is the Former Fat Boys own version of the Vanilla Ice pop song where they poke fun at themselves for being white. The problem with the song, aside from not being funny, is the fact it comes off as an attempt at being funny by merely being white and rapping. Every time I’ve seen a rapping granny or any other similar performance it feels like the person performing the “rap” has no respect for the music, finds the music itself funny, and is making fun of the music by showing the contrast between someone they feel is normal and respected (themselves) and something which they find different (in this case rap). I get this feeling when hearing “Ice Ice Baby” and almost every other song on “Rocky Loves Emily.”
The rest of the album doesn’t get any better. “Shake Ya Ta Tas” is another song where you’re never sure whether it’s a joke or not. This group would probably seriously make a corny bad song about girls shaking their breasts. The hook here is also horrendous and almost hurts your ears. “I’m A Dinosaurus” is a track where the group raps in the persona of being dinosaurs. Seriously. Rapping dinosaurs may be entertaining to toddlers, so the Former Fat Boys may have a future there. Of course I say that only jokingly because there’s no way they would really have a future in children’s entertainment after making a song called “(I Like) Young Girls.” I don’t even have to criticize the track on moral grounds, it’s a played out concept even if you don’t find it disgusting. Everybody has already had their share of Olsen Twin, Lindsey Lohan, and Hilary Duff jokes.
The technical aspects of rap are also not well represented on this album. The rappers have decent flows at times, but sound awkward most of the time. The moments when the rappers sound the best are when they rip Eminem’s fast-paced emotional flow. But when they do that they literally do an Eminem impersonation right down to the voice. The beats on the CD are the best part of the album, but aren’t all that impressive. Overall, the mixture of music sounds like it would be at home alongside the cheesy electric pop of the 1980’s. Some beats are better than others, but none warrant too much attention.
The Former Fat Boys are a novelty act that has very little novelty. They’re not funny and they’re not talented.