By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
This 24-year-old meshuga man’s got even more surprises. If tight delivery and synapse-poppin’ spontaneity stick out in the context of kindergarten-level maturity, even more salient are the sparkly synths, rubbery bass lines and Dionne Warwick samples buttressing the rhyme schemes — not the obvious backdrop for one man’s spiritual malaise, but whatever works (and it does). On the jester tip, Necro does a version of Joe’s Apartment, talking about how some of his best friends — and occasional meals (!) — were household vermin in “Cockroaches.”
Forget all the parental-advisory stickers for a moment: What makes Necro scary is the sense that under all the puerile boasts and empty threats, he’s not always kidding, as on the autobiographical “Underground”: “You wanna know why I’m like an icicle, when I was 6 I was a hit and run/I looked in the mirror and saw my own brain.” Or how about the last line of the title track’s rock-smoking caper, addressing his dealer: “I’ll beep you in an hour/I hate you.” It’s telling when a radio-show host comments during a guest appearance (“WNYU 89.1 Freestyle 5/10/2000”), “Damn, Necro, you have a lot of anger, you get worse every time you’re back.” Necro, thinking this over, wearily concurs, “Lot of anger.” (Andrew Lentz)
THE BEATNUTS Take It or Squeeze It (Loud)
Don’t try to take the Beatnuts too seriously. For all their colorful gangsta ’n’ playa posturing, it’s all flash with no fire. And hey, that’s okay — they’re here to entertain, not offer testimony, so when Juju and Psycho Les chatter off about sex, drugs and violence, expect Ridley Scott, not Ken Burns. Their rhymes are little more than window-dressing for the real attraction, their namesake: the beats.
For the past decade, the Beatnuts have built their reputation on their quirky, savory bits of ear candy — memorable musical macramés that weave together infectiously funky loops and hammer-headed drum tracks. But with each new album — this is their fourth — the ’Nuts feel like artistic fossils, mired in a tar pit of torpidity. Partly it’s because they haven’t reinvented themselves in years, and their sex boasts and gun toasts have gotten more vapid with each recycling. But it’s also that hip-hop’s musical tastes have changed. Ten years back, scores of rappers knocked on their door for a track — these days, producers like Timbaland and the Neptunes have nailed down rap’s “now sound,” and the ’Nuts have fallen out of fashion.
It’s a shame, too, since their beats are still as tasty as ever, examples of a masterful minimalism that’s been drowned out by today’s sonic storms of studio effects. “It’s Da Nuts” bumps on little more than just a staccato bass line and rolling breakbeat, while “Prendelo” is a classic party anthem built from a simple Afro-Cuban piano melody and Greg Nice’s energetic cameo. The ’Nuts seem to challenge themselves to find the most obscure and exotic samples possible, whether it’s the trilling flute loop that darts through “Mayonnaise” or the spinning disco vocals underneath “Contact.”
Unfortunately, these enjoyable musical hooks aren’t enough to keep Take It or Squeeze Itafloat. Odd as it sounds, while their music is still fun to listen to, Juju and Psycho Les aren’t — not with their tired, juvenile misogyny and empty bravado. In the past, they’ve been able to count on their style being the substance, but as they’ve even worn that into a dull nub, their irreverence has spelled out their irrelevance. (Oliver Wang)