Chops :: Food For Naught :: Day By Day Entertainment
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

You may know Chops the Magnificent Butcher as a humerous punchline puglisist from the group Mountain Brothers. You may know him even better as the producer behind their funky-ass tracks on albums like "Self Vol. 1" and "Triple Crown," as well as providing hip-hop soul to artists ranging from Bahamadia to Planet Asia. Either the artists he has worked with say something about his good taste, or them linking up with him says something about THEIRS, but either way whether Chops drops beats or rhymes it usually tends to be good times.

Not surprisingly, Chops has decided to drop the solo album "Food For Naught" to build upon his impressive resume. What may shock some is that the "naught" in the title is akin to him "not" rapping. Only the opening track "YallAintReady" has him blessing the verbals, although looking at the glass as half full here is a good decision given that Chops splits both beats and rhymes with precision:

"You see I got a lust for tracks, that got a touch of jazz
Don't mess with no freshmen, just the grads
Friend I'm deadlier than mustard gas, catch me up in the lab
Cook it up like SpongeBob and Krusty Krab
Swimmin with sharks, y'all afraid to touch the glass
Whassup with that? Fall apart like shirts purchased up the ave
My rhymes is tougher than findin love that lasts
Maintain like lawn services that cutcha grass
You tryin to make it big? You meet with the upper brass
Then you can do like Jason Biggs and put a trumpet up ya ass!"

You don't need instruments where the sun don't shine to realize Chops is hella funky on the rhyme. The beat's what really makes it sweet though: a simple drum tap, spirited keyboard playing, and a dirty funky bass that complete the whole enchilada like beans and rice on the side. In other words, this food is definitely NOT for naught. There's plenty more flavor to find throughout the album. "Tough Guy Strut" lives up to it's billing, because Shaft could most definitely get his stroll on. "Gizzards 'n Hot Sauce" is a spicy dish better suited to Foxxy Brown (Pam Grier y'all, not the rapper) while "Drama Lover" is if anything the opposite of dramatic - it's hella mellow and relaxing to listen to. Some of these beats are short snippets of funk, like "Tommy Gun in the Violin Case"; while others are four minute long epics like "Nowhere to Run" that interweave subtle elements into a whole so harmonious it really seems like a shame to not hear a rapper ripping to the beat.

Like his witty raps, Chops song titles and musical choices betray his sense of humor and love of a good laugh. It's hard not to love songs like "Big Booty in Stretchy Pants" or "U Ain't Got No Wins Up in Here." At times you may catch a holy ghost of other favorite rap producers listening to this CD. Is that JuJu or Psycho Les of The Beatnuts on "Blow Out the Candles?" Could ?uestlove and The Roots swinging band behind "Song for Latonya?" You might even think that "Ghost Town" was the work of RZA or Evidence. No sir, that's all Chops. Few producers in hip-hop have a more appropriate name, because chops he's got a LOT of. While some may be non-plussed by an album consisting largely of beats, others will be entranced by his self-confessed "lust for tracks that got a touch of jazz." Songs like "Falling Star" and "International Spy Chase" will appeal to anyone who loves a soulful mix or blaxploitation flicks respectively.

Closing with the sly "Smooth Assassin" featuring a scratched Fat Joe hook by DJ Kwestion and rhymes from newcomer CMNR, Chops plays the background and lets his guests be the focus on his fat beats. That's modus operandi for Chops - he makes other people sound good - but this time, you can get a good appreciation for his top rank skills all on their own. Even the entire retinue of cooks in Iron Chef's own Kitchen Stadium don't have as many chops as Chops; so give the man NUFF PROPS. For either Mountain Brothers fans or lovers of quality beats, "Food For Naught" is certainly NOT to be missed.

Music Vibes: 8.5 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 7.5 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 8 of 10

Originally posted: May 17, 2003