In the interest of full disclosure I have to admit that I hate rap rock. That includes not only Kid Rock and Limp Bizkit, but also "License To Ill" – era Beastie Boys, and most of Rick Rubin's production work at Def Jam. I don't even like Mos Def or the Roots' explorations into rock. To me, rap rock is the worst of both worlds, and fails to capture what is unique and exciting about either genre. I don't want to hear Jack White or Lemmy from Motorhead rap, and I don't want hear any rappers rock out. It's like Jordan playing baseball – it just doesn't work.
Enter Minneapolis-based M.C. Rentz, who appears in his album doing his best Fred Durst, complete with goatee and backwards baseball cap. Rentz is clearly trying to mate his hard rock records with his hip hop records, and taking more than a little inspiration from those who have come before him, especially Limp Bizkit and Korn.
The album opens with the title track, which loops a guitar riff over drums and scratching. "Adi Dassler" is perhaps the best song on the album, with a jazzy, bouncing beat, although it is kind of ruined by Rentz's nu-metal screaming. "Turn It Up Too" brings back the guitar, sounding a little like a nu-metal "Rock the Bells."
It's not all rocking, though. "The Mirage" is a mellow track that features a long instrumental outro with an acoustic guitar; "Marijuana Cigarettes" is loping country-funk that borrows musically from G. Love, and lyrically from Sublime. Several songs offer up beats that are more funky than rocking, but they aren't that convincing coming right on the heels of the Korn-like tracks. M.C. Rentz even gets soulful on "Have You Seen My Elephant?" The outro has a happy, poppy beat that transforms into some 1980s New Wave synths.
Unlike Fred Durst, M.C. Rentz isn't a total psychotic asshole with serious women issues. In fact, he seems like a nice enough guy, and while his lyrics celebrate partying and getting stoned, he also talks about his family, and describes his struggles as a musician. His brother even appears on the album playing mandolin. M.C. Rentz is also a decent rapper and lyricist, and produced all 17 tracks. However, his flow does not work for me. At best he sounds like Fred Durst or Jonathan Davis; at his worst moments, M.C. Rentz sounds like Adam Sandler doing his angry man-child thing. In my opinion, none of the above is anything to aspire to or emulate, and any potential the songs had for me were ruined by Rentz's delivery. He does have a ton of guests on the album, none of whom I had heard of, and some of whom offered up decent rhymes.
The other issue with this album, apart from the fact that it is from a genre I personally dislike, is that it is all over the place musically. One song will sound like "Break Stuff," while the next track has a moody gothic metal feel to it, only to be followed up by some old-school hip hop. M.C. Rentz proves himself an able producer, and I appreciated his mixture of live instruments and beats, but the album is unfocused, schizophrenic, and is bound to confuse even those listeners who appreciate the blending of rock and rap. A lot of this probably has to do with M.C. Rentz having a lot of influences and wanting to express himself musically. In the future, however, he should make sure his influences congeal into something that makes sense musically.
Fans of rap rock may appreciate "1981," although they might be put off by its lack of focus, and by M.C. Rentz's flow. Those who don't like the genre to begin should take a pass. Despite the album's shortcomings, however, M.C. Rentz's proves himself to be a talented producer, and an able lyricist. If he can hone his sound to be less scattered, he may be on to something. At the very least, he has a future as a producer and ghost writer.
Music Vibes: 6 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 4 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 5 of 10
Originally posted: June 10, 2008