My biggest gripe with Extended F@mm’s “Happy Fuck You Songs” undoubtedly was the edited promo version I found in my mailbox. You can’t possibly enjoy, let alone review the clean version of a record that lists an ‘Official Cuss-Count’ of 230 cuss words! Things quickly looked up as soon as I got hold of the retail version. I was rewarded not only with a more fluidly flowing audio section, but also with extended multimedia features such as lyrics, interviews and clips of live performances. In the words of the group’s unofficial fifth member, an obnoxious rodent by the name of Squijee: “This shit be enhanced, bitch!” Please honor efforts like these put forth by independent hip-hop labels and buy the original.
Conceived in 2000, the Extended F@amm project is about bringing you “the most innovative crew cuts possible.” So goes the official version. If judged on that premise (and promise), “Happy Fuck You Songs” would have to feature modern day equivalents of the Juice Crew’s “The Symphony”, N.W.A’s “Fuck Tha Police”, EPMD’s “Knick Knack Patty Wack”, Heavy D’s “Don’t Curse”, ATCQ’s “Show Business”, LONS’ “Spontaneous”, Dr. Dre’s “Lyrical Gangbang”, Gang Starr’s “I’m the Man”, or Westside Connection’s “West Up”, to name but a few. Truth be told, “Happy Fuck You Songs” holds a couple of strong contenders for the most innovative posse cut since – well, in a long time.
The one that needs to go down in history is “Celly”. The topic is cell phones and their notoriously bad reception. As the four members of Extended F@mm, Tonedeff, PackFM, Substantial and Session, are trying to arrange a meeting to write some songs together, they’re not only faced with the challenge of getting organized, but also with having to deal with temperamental technology. Too many misunderstandings ensue to give a detailed account, just know that most of them ain’t pretty and seriously endanger the group’s existence. The idea seems nice enough, but “Celly” is so well executed, from the logic of the narrative to the performance of the MC’s to the particular misunderstandings and finally the humorous track, that this is easily one of the most admirable group efforts ever conceived in rap music.
It’s quite fitting that Extended F@mm’s tight chemistry is illustrated by a song about communication failure. Because to these four gentlemen, tonge-in-cheek isn’t simply an adjective you can attatch like an accessory whenever you feel like it, it’s an attitude that’s proudly worn on the sleeve. Armed with a broad grin and a set of firmly extended middle fingers, these four battle-tested MC’s work themselves up into punchline frenzy. Yet regardless of the intricate rhyming, their message to the ruling class of rappers is simple and exemplary hip-hop: “Fuck you, I rhyme better.” What better idea than to put that simple thought into a song, appropriately abbreviated “FYIRB”?
They do stray away from the “crew cuts” concept with duets and solo joints, but then they also got the “Obligatory Posse Cut”, a parody on posse cuts where 13 heads and one squirrel take turns to take stabs at this hip-hop staple. Tonedeff plays the overseer: “I’ll handle production, y’all make sure your verse catches the drum kick/ The odds of getting off are decent with 80 niggas and 1 chick.” The same (Kameel-Yen) replies: “What am I, the token chick with these dicks in a sword fight?/ Don’t even know half these cats, is this a song or an open mic?” Surely a question hip-hop fans have asked themselves before. GMS looks at it from the point of a participant: “I hate these long-ass underground tapes/ You gotta wait and wait and wait and then you only spit 8?” Deacon the Villain asks for refunds: “I’m only on this shit cause I was asked/ Drove from Kentucky, so who the fuck is paying for my gas?” Pumpkinhead on the other hand is worried about his health as well as his wealth:
“I can’t believe I’m here to spit in the booth
I got the flu, cold sweats, plus a chip in my tooth
Hey, am I even gettin’ paid for this dedication?
The least QN5 can do is pay for my medication”
As good as “Celly” and “Obligatory Posse Cut” are, “Happy Fuck You Songs” is not immune to deja-vus. Song titles like “The Evil That Pens Do” and “Murder In the Verse Degree” have an almost too familiar ring to them. These songs are surely ten times more lyrical than any top 40 rap song, but they wouldn’t necessarily be called innovative where they come from. The classical background of “The Evil That Pens Do” or the court scenes of “Murder In the Verse Degree” (which owes a lot to the Gravediggaz’ “Diary of a Madman”) don’t help either. “Line Drop” is a nice display of accelerated rapping, but the invitation to “bare witness to what future MC’s will flow like” on the similarly styled “Velocity” unsuccessfully tries to eclipse the efforts of fast-tongued flow innovators like Twista and Eminem.
Well, here’s nitpicking on an otherwise remarkable album. There’s few rappers who could drive a tag-team joint as thoroughly into absurdity and still come off dope as Tonedeff and PackFM on “Good Combination”:
[ Tonedeff ]
“We come together like five Lions forming the Voltron
Holmes & Watson, doors and knobs, and holes and cocks in hotels post-prom
Silent Bob & Jay, Tylenol and aches, Willis & Arnold
Alyssa Milano with ah – none of her clothes on”
[ PackFM ]
“Bert & Ernie, Robin & Batman, Lavern & Shirley
Moe, Larry and Curly, Jake and The Fat Man
A bag of chips and soda pop, QuarkXPress and Photoshop
Decepticons and Autobots, (‘rock on’) and ‘ya don’t stop'”
Whether solo, in pairs, as a quartet or with even more family members in tow, Extended F@mm unites skilled MC’s under one common goal: to make you have a good time and to give wack MC’s a hard time.