Horrific rhymes and concepts have always had a place in hip-hop, despite what even it's own mainstream might say. Insane Clown Posse regularly goes platinum with their clown paint and macabre zombie raps. Much better but more obscure artists like Esham and Brotha Lynch Hung are routinely dismissed by the hip-hop press but consistantly sell hundreds of thousands of copies to a solid fanbase on each new album.
What good selling "horror" rappers have in common is something fans of Friday the 13th movies might recognize - the ability to walk a fine line between campy and creepy without falling too far into either. Of course, these movies would never succeed without a Wes Craven directing the right script and a good cinematogropher to capture the ghoulish details. Translated to the rap world this would be equivalent to having good beats and rhymes. For the horror genre listener though, Lyrikal Additivez is more "Manos the Hands of Fate" than "Hellraiser."
The uncredited (and probably self-produced) songs of this crew have a distinctly amateurish sound. Somewhere above a Casio SK-1 keyboard but almost below a demo tape 4-track, L.A. is left looking for a perfect beat and left hanging on cheesy synth melodies and flat sounding drum beats completely devoid of bass. Someone should have loaned these rappers a Roland TR-808 just to give their cuts a kick. Unfortunately this wouldn't do anything to improve their rhymes or flow. Having grasped the basic concept of flowing to the beat, the two group members freely disregard it in an attempt to come across as bizarrely eclectic like Kool Keith or capable of spilling big breath control techniques a la Pharoahe Monch. The duo seem obsessed with "sellouts" and "faggots" to a large degree, but need to worry more about their own shit first. "Thunda" serves well enough as an example of why poorly conceived rhymes should never be put onto wax:
"We're like, temperatures outdoors that's incredibly cold
We always rhyme to fast beats, time to slow up our roll
We're like sex for the first time, you're gonna get hooked
Like black people with raw chicken, son you're gonna get cooked"
It's horrific alright - horrific to listen to. I'm not Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson, but even I have to take exception to such a blatantly bad stereotype being bandied about as dope lyricism; especially from two admittedly suburbanite rappers who sound about as black as Carrot Top. Even if it turns out by some odd fluke they actually are, it's no excuse for poor taste. The travesty here is that this you're treated to a whole hour of banal beats and thoughtless lyrics, when about two minutes of any one song would be more than anyone other than a sadomasochist could stand. Despite their own whackness, they still feel self-righteous enough to condemn other MC's who (*snort*) can't hold a candle to their skills on songs like "Batasha":
"You rhyme with a clique, you bite their shit twist it and flip it
Put your rhymes on wet paper, you still couldn't rip it
Youse a fuckin chump; if the crowd had frog legs
and was on trampolines, you still couldn't make 'em jump
I kill yo' ass the fast way; the only reason the crowd's bobbin they heads
is cause I decapitated 'em half way"
Even though these lyrics have a semblence of credibility on paper, the flow alone kills. In essence, their punchline obsession screams rappers who are trying TOO HARD to impress skeptical listeners. When they stick to the horror style they are inspired by, it doesn't really get much better. "Suicide Nation" is a deceptive title - you might actually expect something insightful about the United States, but instead you're served more garbage:
"Small breasts, never that, kept ASCAP
Pencil pads, tapdance on your face for laughs
Your moms wanna ask if I sound like crabs
'til that bitch sucked my nads, then she gets her face slapped
When it comes to lyrics, I spit it
When it's your mom's clitoris, I stick it
You're primitive with linguistics; only dime you got
is the ten cent, you smell like afterbirth incense
I don't pack gats, I pack raps
that'll crack your back, lick my sack a.k.a. scrotum
Or dick blow one
Ain't R. Kelly so you girls is too young"
Given enough time, any twelve-year-old could write comporably offensive lyrics about clits, dicks, and tits; thus this album sounds juvenile and even sophomoric. Listening to the Lyrikal Additivez is what a Tom Green rap album would be like, if Tom Green wasn't funny and nobody had ever heard of him. For all their complaining about Ja Rule and DMX dominating the airwaves (a lone point of their rap I could agree with) they aren't presenting a new or better alternative. The only chance the two members of this group have is as ghostwriters, because no amount of slick flash animation on their website is going to hide the fact this is warmed over crap served on a plate of cow chips. If you want to hear something gruesome that actually makes sense and has good beats, go buy Esham's "KKKill the Fetus" instead and leave "Raw Rugged Underground" buried six feet beneath where it belongs.
Music Vibes: 1 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 2 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 1.5 of 10
Originally posted: February 18, 2003