For a short 32 minute album with just 8 tracks (and 3 interludes), a short synopsis: bangin’ West Coast gangsta lo-lo gang-bang mutherfuckin’ chronic gun-totin’ shoot â€˜em up mutherfuckin’ Bay Area beeatch-slappin’ shit…
Now, there is a chance that both you and I just overdosed on West Coast clichÃ©s there â€“ well, imagine the onslaught continues for a further 31 minutes and you’d pretty much some up “Mars Attacks” by a (you guessed it) West Coast rapper named Mars. There are as many positives as there are negatives on this album. I say album, but really this is more of a good old-fashioned EP â€“ and it is all the better for it.
By a heavy stroke of luck, the first time I played this album was actually in my car â€“ and I tell you now, your ride is THE perfect place to play these absolutely smokin’ beats. Seriously, the music on this album is excellently chosen â€“ and although it is clearly derivative on Dr Dre’s “2001” LP, it is all the better for it. Unfortunately, the sub in my car is out of action â€“ but if your whip is packing some serious bass, then you will enjoy pumping these heavy beats with the windows down and your system up!
After a short intro, the funky Menacide-produced “Do It” creeps into action, completely with catchy chorus and dirty bass line. A short skit follows, leading into “Won’t Find Me” â€“ Ryval arranges the beat, as Mars ducks and dodges the police. The album continues with the dark “My Block”, and the â€˜roll’ of the song is exceptional (aspiring producers, take note), and Sho Down does indeed rock it. Next up, the excellent “Second Time Around”, featuring none other than Spice 1 (who makes a sterling contribution with his guest verse), and the only real dip arrives in the form of the underwhelming “Break It Off”.
A strange beat that somehow contrives to work pretty well blesses “Heartless” â€“ and the liner notes reveal that Mars himself produces the track. After another skit, the final two tracks round off the album nicely â€“ in particular the guitar-tinged “Come a Long Way”. And that is the end â€“ a short but consistent album, with impressive beats and relatively catchy choruses all the way through.
Well, no. That is not quite everything â€“ there is the issue of the MC himself. Although he has a weird, unique voice filled with character, a pleasing flow, and an obvious ability to produce a well-crafted song, his lyrics should have moved on into the new millennium at some point. Yet, they remain stuck in an incredibly clichÃ©d world of guns, sex, violence and drugs. His voice level is dialled down, so it is not always obvious what he is saying â€“ and this can be a blessing. Only upon the second listen of “Do It” did I realise what he is actually saying – “Do that pussy man… Don’t ask permission, Stick it anyway”. Excuse me, Mars â€“ I’m pretty sure that is called â€˜rape’.
It is a disappointment that such rhymes continue to proliferate, and in all honestly it almost ruins a somewhat promising debut. Dope beats, good flow, solid choruses â€“ these are all undermined by corny lyrics. But who knows, maybe Mars can outgrow these rhymes and stumble upon a formula where he can spit more imaginative rhymes, whilst still maintaining a solid sales record. I do hope so, as he clearly has talent â€“ but talent without direction is usually wasted. Maybe Mars is getting money, but it would be nice if, like Dr Dre, he occasionally rises above the waste land just to give a birds-eye view of his planet. If he could do so, I’d be happy to orbit around Mars sometime in the future.