In a culture that often times takes itself too seriously, Scribbling Idiots may be guilty of not taking themselves seriously enough. The five man group/twelve man crew suffers from a name that implies both lack of intellect and comedy. While the group emanates a lighthearted vibe, they definitely are not a simple comedy act. Interestingly enough, when one researches the meaning of the word "idiot" you find that the name may not be as inappropriate as you would think. The word originates from the Greek word for "ordinary man" and given the universal message advocated by the Scribbling Idiots that definition would be apt. Of course, the more commonly known meaning of the world implies lack of intellect and/or presence of ignorance, yet even this meaning can be flipped in a positive way. Given the word's history, it's been adopted by several states, including their native Ohio, to define a person not capable of committing a crime. In a liberal translation a "scribbling idiot" could mean a rapper not capable of committing a crime – on the mic that is. As is the case with many interesting hip-hop names, Scribbling Idiots was just the product of an impromptu idea materialized because it sounded cool, but thankfully the group of rappers/emcees puts much more thought and effort into their music.
To attempt to clear things up, Scribbling Idiots as a group consists of five members – JustMe, Cas Metah, Theory Hazit, Wonder Brown, and Mouth Warren. These core members are the ones you will find most often on "The Have Nots" and the ones you'd see rocking a stage if you ever caught a Scribbling Idiots show. Confusion arises because Scribbling Idiots also exists as a twelve man collective with members as far away as the UK. Due to physical, practical, and economical limitations the collective is more of a theoretical entity whose members occasionally contribute verses and beats to each other's projects. With that out of the way, we can get into what's important for a review, and that is an analysis of the music. As is the case with any fan new to a group, I flock to the familiar and in this case the familiar is Masta Ace who is featured on the group's single "Told You So." The beat kicks off with some uplifting pianos racing across the track before a simple, but effective beat kicks in. Masta Ace absolutely kills his verse as is expected from the old school vet/new school wonder and also overshadows the rest of the crew. Being outshined by Masta Ace is no knock, but isn't the best introduction to the group. Given this fact, it's understandable why "Told You So" didn't show up until the second to last track on the album. After listening to the other 14 tracks on "The Have Nots," you too will realize it's unfair to judge them by that one track.
If you kick things off from the beginning you'll encounter a crew who has head nodding beats and intelligent, entertaining raps. The title track gives us an energetic intro to the crew:
"This is a jam that you move to
The gun jammed you better move fool
Cause Sonny also packs a twenty-two
Known for robbing banks, gaffling JD
Having the latest models of techs, thirty-eights
Teach panics when they hear his name
And it's a shame cause it's the same game
Running the ghettos of U-S-A
It all started when Sonny was a kid
Cause dad had to serve a twenty-five to life bid
And his mom was taken away by heron
Grandma was his heart but no she long gone
Dealing with rejection all his life helped mold
How to cock-back, aim and hold the four-four (Run It!)
Reach for the sky when he's on your block (Run It!)
Get got or get shot is the plot (Sonny!)
Doesn't realize that he has a lot
More than most but he'll never know 'til he gets caught"
The mix of clever punch lines, positive messages, and word play has been done before, but Scribbling Idiots do it well so no need to knock them for that. Next up on the group's agenda is showing some crew love on "More Than Crew" where they declare that they've become friends after coming together as artists. "That's Life" is a cautionary tale about the wrong decisions that people make through life and is noteworthy for the dope EF Cutting track, complete with Premier-esque scratched hook and chopped up sample. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and in this case Cutting gave Premier one hell of a compliment with this one.
The group maintains the consistent vibe throughout the album and the end result is a surprisingly solid album. The group does suffer from a lack of originality in everything from production to topic matter. Yet, after hearing the RZA/Kanye influenced "Is That You" you realize that even in a field of imitators, the track stands out. That is to say, I've heard hundreds of attempts to copy this sound or that sound, but an attempt implies a failure and the Scribbling Idiots do not fail. Instead, they stick to a tried and true formula and do it well. As with any group, you'll encounter some emcees you like more than others, but overall you'll be satisfied by the positive and funky vibes.
Music Vibes: 7.5 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 7.5 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 7.5 of 10
Originally posted: May 13, 2008