Well here's a strange one. Hailing from Jackson, Mississippi comes Illabobcain, one of the most oddly named rappers in recent memory. But even more puzzling than Illa's name is his intent with "The Laser Disc Diaries." After spinning the album a few times now, I'm still feeling unsure as to whether I'm meant to take it seriously, or whether it's just a big joke. If in fact it is meant to be the latter, then I must confess: I just don't get it.
The press release for "The Laser Disc Diary" has T-Bones Records claiming to be the record label that brought you the genius of Afroman. While it's true that T-Bones definitely did bring us Afroman (and aren't we all glad that they did!), I think it's clear where the misnomer is in that claim, right? And lemme just say that if Afroman is indeed a genius, then his label-mate Illabobcain is the Forrest Gump of southern rap.
During his Fifteen Minutes, Afroman gave us some laughs; I think most of us can admit to at least chuckling the first time we heard "Because I Got High." And it was clear that with that track (and the rest of his album, for that matter), Afroman was out to make us laugh. Nobody took him seriously, and that was fine. But Illabob isn't content with being just another stupid novelty act, like Afroman. Oh no. He's gonna switch it up on us and make us think. Is he a joke or not?
The very fact that this question exists is an indicator for the quality of the album. Think about it: if Illabobcain was an ill lyricist, would I be asking if he was a joke or not? And on the flip side, if Illabobcain was spitting hilarious one-liners and acting a fool, making me laugh, would I be asking if he was a joke or not? See my point? Whichever card Illa is TRYING to play here, it ain't workin either way. He rarely ever has a point to make, and I get the feeling that he is trying to be funny, but having a hard time at it. Boasting some of the most simplistic rhymes this side of kindergarten, and a flow that makes Bizarre from D12 sound good, Illabobcain will make you cringe before he makes you nod ya head though. Listening to him, you'll find yourself making the same face that you make when your lemonade's too sour. Here's a sampling of Illabobcain's lyrics from the opening track, "Noxomut" (my apologies in advance…):
"I peeled out, to my destination
Relaxing my mind was my occupation
I, pulled in the parking lot
There was not a lot
Of space.. for me to park, mine
So I twist and turned, got in a tight space
Got out, hit my alarm and then approached the place
I seen a bunch of big booties, gigglin, smilin
I wish I could knock them girls to Long Island.."
Now what the hell is this, you say. I don't know; I wish I could help you to understand what's going on here, but I can't. I have no clue, myself. And sadly, that's some of the better lyrics on the album, too. If you're reading this review right now, and have played PaRappa the Rapper on your Playstation, then rest assured: that game had tighter rhymes than Illabobcain does. On a positive note, at least Illa sounds like he's really putting in a lot of effort in his delivery. That's a good thing. Or maybe it's just sad.
But "The Laser Disc Diaries" saves itself from being a total wreck by providing us with some surprisingly (read: VERY surprisingly) good beats. Honestly, I think Illa (and co-producer Hi-Rolla), could give Mannie Fresh a run for his money when it comes to beats. I say Mannie Fresh not because I'm a huge fan of his, but beacuase that's who seems to be inspiring the funky, synthed-out music on this album. And just like every Ca$h Money release to date, Illabobcain's strength definitely lies within the beats. Maybe it's a Southern thing.
"Funk Leatha", a track about a girl who wears too much leather (???), has enough horn-sounding noise to sound nice. "Give Me-A" has a Biz Markie-esque cornball piano vibe to it, and "Ape 2 Ape" weighs in as the strongest track, with a techno/rock/rap beat that'll bang on your eardrums. Most of the time though, it's a shame that Illabobcain raps over his beats, because I think they could have been put to good use if paired up with the right MCs. Don't get me wrong: Illabobcain sure isn't the next Timbaland or anything, but he's alright.
So, in the end, a few people might buy this album, and a small percentage of them will probably even enjoy it. But when it's all said and done, "The Laser Disc Diaries" will fizzle out, fall by the wayside, and everyone will try to forget it ever happened. Kind of like laser discs, I guess. Hey, wait a minute! Maybe there's something to Illabobcain after all... nah!
Music Vibes: 6 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 1 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 3.5 of 10
Originally posted: May 30, 2002