Mellow Man Ace - veterano of the hip-hop game, bilingual rap pioneer, architect for a whole generation who came after to get wreck. His brother Sen Dog - founding member of multi-platinum recording artists Cypress Hill, whose influence in the underground AND the mainstream is too widespread to cover in this short review. One would imagine that these two legends collaborating to record an album together would be a historically significant moment for the music and the culture. Magazine covers, interviews, music videos, newspaper articles... or just randomly drop the CD on store shelves with no forewarning or announcement. People often assume music critics and record reviewers must be well connected, must know about every album coming out and what the release date is, must have the inside track on everything. There was no inside track on "Ghetto Therapy" though because nobody even bothered to build a track to begin with. This album had less buzz coming out than Kevin Federline's "Playing With Fire" - THAT'S A PROBLEM.
Unfortunately part of the problem is translating the importance of this album in the first place. Sen Dog has always been overshadowed by the more charismatic and nasally voiced B-Real on Cypress Hill's records, while Mellow Man Ace has only released four records in fifteen years time. In fact despite the crossover success of "Mentirosa" back in the day, an entire generation has come of age while Ace has been almost entirely off the radar. For the Reyes Brothers to succeed on "Ghetto Therapy" they need to pull out all the stops and not rely solely on their historical importance to hip-hop. They need a song that's going to get people talking, something big. How about re-uniting two-thirds of 213, Warren G and the S-N-double-O-P, over a Warren G beat? That's a good place to start, and the Reyes Brothers have a ready-made song for dropping the top and cruising the block on "We O.G.'s":
Ace: "When you see me in that three I'm laid down in it
Stretched down in it like it's goin down innit?
Livin it, doin it, West coast rulin it
Poppin three bottles at the bar when the crew in it
Listen up dude, we laid back with it
So stay back with it or get clapped back with it
That's how we did it and that's how we does
Forever stay buzzed, no reason, just because"
Sen Dog: "Let me tell you how we do it out West
High grade kush bud nothin but the best
Sen Dog, born to make them dollars
So damn fresh in that six-five Impala
Feelin good under the Cali sun
Wild West niggaz be a gang of fun
Hit Mellow Man, on the NexTel
He headin up to Hollywood so I commence to bail"
Unfortunately the timing of this song may hurt the buzz anywhere outside Southern California or Texas, because in the rest of the U.S. dropping the top is gonna require thermal underwear and a Bubble Goose jacket from Oakley. The song COULD heat up the dancefloor though. Other songs which bring the heat include DJ Muggs guitar-laden "It's Yours," X.L.'s pimpslap-tastic "It's Official" featuring Bishop Don Magic Juan, "Bulletproof Game" starring and produced by B-Real, who also shows his able production chops on the heavy handed pianos and strings of "Fight Night":
Ace: "I stay chiseled like a prizefighter, and spit fire
Virgin pussy's tight but evidently Mellow Man's tighter
Big Bear, crosstrainin, protein, maintainin
Treadmill, speed bag, no excess weight gainin
Biceps amazin flows blazin never changin
Models and chickens chasin, but they gets nathin
Other rappers hawkin and talkin I knock 'em senseless
I'm focused homeboy and watch, game is relentless
I'm the slept-on jew-el, sittin on Sprewells
Now everyone can tell I bring the fire from the depths of hell
I take your favorite rapper out at the press conference
No need for HBO, cut the check, this is nonsense"
Unfortunately this album IS in many ways like a pugilist or MMA fighter, one who DIDN'T train in Big Bear, California who looks good for the first few rounds and then suddenly gasses out and becomes a walking talking punching bag. What's most surprising about the album is that the normally reliable Fredwreck completely misses the mark on a couple of tracks, the corny "I Lied" and the uninspiring and unthumping "It's Goin' Down," although the title and lyrics of both tracks is equally uninspired. Having the chance to advance by bringing the family together, the charismatic duo often settle for cliched concepts like "If I Die" and "You Don't Know Me" while proclaiming how "H.A.R.D." they are. The latter features lines like "I pull a Tone Loc on my own record label/shotgun in your office, shootin your glass table." Well rap fans have only heard that complaint ten million times, and the Reyes Brothers are signed to Latin Thug Music, so either they are gaffling themselves or Tommy Mottola is secretly running their whole operation. There's also the inexplicable rap "Interlude 2," which makes even less sense when you consider there's no "Interlude 1" on the album:
"Hoe bitch, hoe bitch, no I wanna fuck
Take off yo' pants in the back of yo' truck
Please wet your whistle and go down on me
Please make the little funky sound on me
Lick it on the bottom and bite it on the top
Lay your sexy ass back and let the panties drop
Magnums, MAGNUMS! Tell me where you be
Front pocket, back pocket, under the front seat
Shorty pipin hot so I commence to finger poppin
Pussy nice and wet so you know it ain't no stoppin
But where be them jim hats, man it's goin down
Left hand on the titty right hand search the ground
Dog this little bitty's startin to get a little bored
Oh yeah I left them condoms, on Megan's floorboard
Indeed. Like Ron Simmons would say, "DAMN!" As in "Damn that's whack." What "Ghetto Therapy" best represents is untapped potential. The therapy that Mellow Man Ace and Sen Dog found on this album may be family unity, but the music is damn near schizophrenic and definitely needs MORE therapy. Both artists have a lot more potential as lyricists they are simply unable to show here, often because they are held back by beats that bite more than they bark and simply fail to spark interest. In the end the lack of publicity for "Ghetto Therapy" may be to their benefit, because this is a family project with a lot of promise that should not be abandoned simply because the first attempt didn't deliver. This release however is ecommended only for hardcore fans of either artist.
Music Vibes: 6 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 6 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 6 of 10
Originally posted: November 14, 2006