Flavor Flav is many things – a hip-hop icon, a clock-wearing clown, the venerable hypeman for Public Enemy, star of many reality TV shows on VH-1, and a soulful crooner.
A SOULFUL CROONER?
That’s right. On the long-anticipated (and I do mean LONG as in at least 15 years or so) solo debut album from Flavor Flav simply titled “Flavor Flav,” the rapper who often subdues his natural talents in favor of providing comedic relief shows a talent no one was even expecting – the ability to rock a heartfelt ballad without rapping. It’s a rather unusual way for Flav to open the album, but “Let it Show” is not really a dissapointment. Flavor Flav has used his recent TV appearances to teach a whole new generation how unpredictable and electrifying his persona is, and throwing his rap fans a curve with heartfelt R&B stylings (that are damn near gospel) like “I can’t give up the fight/I gotta keep it movin/God gave me the power to keep it strong, not losin.”
That being said Flavor Flav should not SERIOUSLY consider giving up his day job to take up a new career following in the footsteps of the late great Gerald Levert. While this opening track proves him a competent crooner, arguably due to the fact that despite his often immature facade he DOES take music seriously, that only makes him one of the better rappers to sing in a long line of bad ones. Some like Biz Markie have been bad simply for comedic purposes, and some just have no idea how awful they sound when not rapping (Guru, I’m talking to you), but even Flav will not be mistaken for Isaac Hayes or R. Kelly any time soon. That’s why it’s something of a relief to see he goes back to more familiar Flavor Flav antics on the followup “Flavor-Man” with lines like “For all you motherfuckers who think I fell off/I’m Flavor Flav nigga, I’m still the boss!” This quite frankly is the Flavor Flav his fans want to see – unapologetically cocky and always opinionated. He’s not afraid to tackle any topic on this CD, even family issues, such as on “I Ain’t Scared”:
“Just to keep it real wit’chu, what’s the deal wit’chu?
What’s this shit I feel wit’chu?
Everything is goin wrong yo
This shit has been goin on too long yo
We gotta put this thing on the right track
We gotta put it back – to where we once had it before
Don’t you remember we had it goin on galore?
Louis’ and more? (Gold rings?)
Everybody was eatin, I was meetin and greetin
Lookin good from the head to the feet and
Didn’t give the kids a beatin, I was a good dad yo
Even when I became famous
I took the whole family to the shows
Snot runnin out they nose
Now that’s the life I chose – I ain’t scared!”
Flavor Flav alternates between singing and rapping throughout this largely self-produced CD, with widely varying results. “Two Wrongz” is a little bit too SAPPY, and seems more like something he’d sing to a woman pitching him woo on “Flavor of Love.” On the other hand you might expect something drippy from “Baby Baby Baby” and instead are met with the reckless abandon and pounding beats you might have heard on a song by the late great Ol’ Dirty Bastard. Flav often works best as a narrator of events such as on “The Jookz,” although he still shows some of his manic and occasionally incomprehensible fiery delivery on “Hot 1.” Flav may be overextending himself a little though on “Platinum” with the braggadocious rap “Platinum, platinum, I’m goin double platinum!” Just being a hip-hop legend known for comedy shouldn’t excuse you when you make a song that consists almost entirely of bragging how you’ll go platinum and trying unsuccessfully to find words that rhyme WITH platinum. Quite frankly it’s hard to imagine the repetitive lyrics of this song putting anybody platinum except for a retarded rap group like D4L.
More than anything else this vanity project, featuring the disincorporated head of Flavor Flav screaming (literally) over the Hollywood landscape, proves that Flav’s single most unrecognized talent is behind the boards. A lot of mediocre rap artists could do far worse than have Flavor Flav produce their records, but it’s likely they couldn’t afford his asking price and with his hectic schedule it’s likely he wouldn’t have the time anyway. In that respect it’s somewhat amazing this self-titled album came out at all, although equally unsurprising it’s been little advertised or promoted. There’s an enjoyably loopy quality to Flavor Flav’s schtick at any time, but presented entirely on his own for twenty tracks you begin to remember why he was largely relished to a sidekick role in P.E.