You know, ever since Lil Jon got his bug-eyed self lampooned on the Dave Chapelle show and the Ying Yang Twinz started infecting the public consciousness with THAT sound (“HAAANNNHHH”) I’m unsure of whether the general public really takes us rap types seriously any more, and that disturbs me. Rap appears to have traded its socio-political agenda and anarchistic vigour for shiny suits, chrome rims and pimp cups, and it’s becoming increasingly apparent to me that the seething spirit of Public Enemy has dissipated for more sanitary and palatable sounds. Now before cries of ‘backpacker’ surround me from multiple directions, let it be known that I am one of Lil’ Jon’s foremost fans- I’ve had love for dude since his early compilations on So So Def- to me nobody resurrects the party-rousing euphoria of Cold Crush Brothers and the carefree audacity of 2 Live Crew with more dynamism or ingénue. However it does disturb me when hordes of gormless amateurs attempt to follow suit with their misguided reinterpretations of call-and-response, bass-driven party anthems. DJ Rick is such an offender, though in truth he is more irritating than most, hovering between Lil’ Jon’s rambunctious cacophony, trunk-rattling Miami bass and bizarrely, introspective street rap, while failing spectacularly in all departments.

While appearances certainly tend to be deceiving, DJ Rick certainly did himself a considerable disservice with the packaging of this self-released effort- I received a plastic sleeve with a poorly-printed Times New Roman tracklist and a CD-R which features the CD title and website URL messily scrawled by hand on the surface. A brief browse of the tracklist is even more depressing- “Where Dem Hoez At”, “Xtasy”, “You’s A Hoe” and “Bounce 2 This” suggest that these folks don’t take themselves altogether seriously, and they really don’t- for the most part, at least. A reverb-driven guitar line introduces the listener to a promising sounding instrumental, boasting bizarre, spacey sound bytes reminiscent of MF Doom, only to be interjected by a hopelessly irritating refrain of “Everybody throw your drinks up!” and an emcee who sounds like Paul Barman trying to do an impression of Crunchy Black.

“Where Dem Hoez At” is absolutely atrocious – attempting to fuse a drum pattern similar to the Neptunes’ “I Just Wanna Love U” with Hitman Sammy Sam crunk, an acoustic experiment that looks great on paper, but is absolutely awful in practice. The verses on offer here are even more underwhelming- sounding like Yo Gotti if he were to lose all his teeth and lose his mind of a few tabs of acid. To make things worse, some of the tracks on offer here aren’t even mixed properly- “Free Drinks”, featuring 56 Block, has absolutely no juice in the low end, faint sounding highs and mids, and close to no production on the vocals, as 56 Block’s Koopsta Knicca like flow is hidden in the murky, amateurish mix. “Times So Hard Pt 2” eases off the crunk pedal and attempts to shift into an awkward introspective vibe, but DJ Rick is so bafflingly atrocious with his vocal execution (sounding like White Dawg taking his best shot at Tela songs) that it defeats the intentions of the track.

After having so thoroughly lambasted this record, I now find myself at a loss for words. I vowed earlier in the D.One review to preserve my journalistic integrity and passionately pursue my quest to promote independent artistry, but on the real, there are a lot of acts that deserve their comfortable spots in commercial limbo. DJ Rick and his platoon of abominable miscreants belong to this category, as I still find myself baffled as to how I should react to this record. While I clearly dislike this album, my typically precise instincts have been lead in all sorts of directions- from crappy attempts at crunk to uproarious East Coast rap to haplessly thin-sounding introspective rants, and thus I remain unsure of whether this record is a parody or not.

DJ Rick :: Da Mixtape