Ol' Dirty Bastard used to say he was for the kids and Trick Daddy says he loves the kids, yet Hip-Hop has never really been all too kind to kids. If you were a fan as kid, the Parental Advisory stickers and explicit lyrics were sure to cause you much grief with your parents. Kid rappers also tend to be seen as gimmicks and only used for the limited commercial success they can create. Lately, Hip-Hop has been a bit better for both kid rappers and fans alike. Lil' Bow Wow has had a successful and relatively long career and more acts are looking to take advantage of the large teen demographic. I have nothing against this trend but a problem does arise when teen acts don't realize who their audience is. Take Impac, a group that consists of four younger looking males dressed in stylish clothes and obviously posing on their album cover to appeal to teen girls. It is painfully obvious that Impac aims to get some of Bow Wow's fans but their album features a Parental Advisory sticker. Once you start listening to their music you realize that stylistically the group tries to rhyme like a hardcore rap group despite its watered down subject matter. It's a mix that doesn't work and doesn't appeal to either the teen crowd or the hardcore crowd.
Just so you get a taste of what Impac sounds like, imagine Joe Buddens and Raekwon getting together as a group, getting the catchiest hip-pop tracks out, and then rapping about dancing and girls and parties. As awkward and bad as that idea may sound it gets a bit worse since the beats featured aren't as catchy as they should be and the rappers are nowhere near the level of Joey or Rae. The members of Impac look like teens and look to appeal to teens but seem intent on trying to sound like grown men. I'm not trying to diss, but even Bow Wow kept it watered down after dropping the "Lil'" from his name because he recognized who his main audience is.
To Impac's credit, they all possess decent flows though they suffer from unspectacular voices. They also all flow with energy on almost every track. The beats, provided mostly by Fantom of the Beats, aren't all that bad but fail to be catchy enough for a group of this nature. The exceptions are tracks like "Be With You" produced by Inertia. The track succeeds mostly because it keeps it simple with a short and catchy melody and a smooth sing-a-long hook. The rappers also keep the raps on the track simple and cheesy, making for the type of track that has made teen groups successful. "Jump Back," produced by Black Mike, also brings the proper energy to make for a popular dance track but the track is ruined by Impac trying to flex their gangster on the track by proclaiming to be the "youngest niggas and charge" and calling out fake gangsters. The track exhibits the album's problem perfectly. The teen crowd that would most likely buy this album doesn't care about shit like that, they wanna hear about the stereotypical teen drama shown on MTV. The crowd that's into hardcore gangster rap would never take the group seriously. So in the end you're left with a track that has a hot beat but essentially no target audience.
"Almost Famous" is an appropriate title for Impac's debut album. On paper the group seems poised for success with a set of teen rappers that have the potential to appeal to the powerful teen audience. Management does its job decently providing the group with more than a few beats that had the potential to make an impact on the radio. All the potential is quickly killed off by a group of rappers who don't seem to realize who they are. Stuck halfway between trying to be "real" rappers and trying to take advantage of their teen demographic, the group ends up alienating both sides. Next time around the group needs to focus on one demographic and stay true to it.
Music Vibes: 5 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 5 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 5 of 10
Originally posted: August 22, 2006