Monday, July 16, 2012

2 Live Crew As Nasty As They Wanna Be (1989): 60%

Ironically, an Aesop fable ties into this album and its history: a dog who had been harassing the chickens and antagonizing his fellow canines was collared by the farmer. On the collar was a big bell that made a loud clanging noise everywhere he went to warn anyone around them that he was near. Oddly enough, the dog actually took pride in his new collar and purposely clanged the bell as he went about his day. Finally, the other dogs go up to him and say, “You don’t think, do you, that your bell was given to you as a reward of merit? On the contrary, it is a badge of disgrace.” Moral of the story? Notoriety is often mistaken for fame. You can guess who’s who in the fable.

But I’ll explain anyway: 2 Live Crew has never known to be clean or family-friendly in any way whatsoever. And a title like, “As Nasty As They Wanna Be,” promises a lot coming from them. It means pushing the limits of common decency, and even pushing the boundaries of obscenity for that matter. To anyone who believes in protecting filth from children has absolutely no hope of liking this album. They would indeed find it as nasty as it can get, straight from the guys who are obsessed by sex. Considering it went on to sell over a million copies, it probably shouldn’t come as a surprise that we live in a nation of a lot of perverts. Then again, it goes without saying that not every body who got a copy liked it. Except for my dad who listened to it long before I was born. I was amazed.

The Supreme Court ruled it obscene and therefore made anybody who was affiliated with 2 Live Crew, and anyone who had the album to be threatened by authorities who stated that anyone caught with the album or was playing it in their home should be arrested. Talk about being a killjoy. But apparently, as much as the Supreme Court would like to stop them or at least change their ways, but they kept putting out records like Banned in the U.S.A.(meant to mock the Supreme Court), Sports Weekend: As Nasty As They Wanna Be Part II (mostly to use the notoriety of the original album to necessitate a sequel) Apparently Newton’s first law does not apply to the 2 Live Crew.

What once was a glory moment for 2 Live Crew inevitably turned into a hate-fest and in a way, it did become a symbol of shame. Obviously, other rappers had to be talking shit about them long before that album came out. On “I Ain’t Bullshittin’,” the Crew share a moment of pure honesty when they just want to do their thing and indirectly recognize that other rappers have their thing going too. It’s a trip, it’s got a groovy beat with a Richard Pryor sample, and I can bug out to it.

But at 79 minutes and 30 seconds, it’s more than a trip. It’s a sexual excursion. What we have to recognize here that these guys are comedians too. Maybe not standup, but definitely using sex as a vehicle to travel miles long without so much as leaving a track in the road. While it has no real depth, it does have the occasional moment that leaves you wanting to watch porn until you get off and pass out for the night with a head full of endorphins. Seriously though, it can make you laugh, shocked, disgusted, appalled, and yes, horny.  But ultimately, they had every intention of making sure you got your money’s worth.

Try as they might, their best intentions only go so far. If you enjoy sexual misogynistic content described with the rudest humor, then by god, this is your album. Don’t like rap? That’s okay, some times they cut and paste samples from Van Halen, Jimi Hendrix, Richard Pryor, Eddie Murphy, Guns N’ Roses, Full Metal Jacket, Cheech & Chong, the Beatles... and that only covers part of it. When the Beastie Boys collaborated with the Dust Brothers and released Paul’s Boutique, they raised art sampling to an art form by making every part of the sample fit in with the other sampled items around it. Sometimes they made good beats, sometimes they made great guitar riffs……….but the difference between them and the 2 Live Crew: the flow of sampled material never seemed forced. In “The Fuck Shop,” a Guns N’ Roses’ “Sweet Child of Mine” sample runs head on into Van Halen’s “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love.” Jimi Hendrix’s, “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)” is shamelessly woven into a cheap drumkit style beat in “My Seven Bizzos.” Since it didn’t cost much of anything to sample records back then, and given their heavy use of it, I’m guessing they didn’t really have much of a budget to work with, let alone afford decent equipment that didn’t make it seem as though they only had cheap gear to record with. Could be true, could be some half-assed assumption. Whatever the case may be, more often than not, it does sound good.

I’ve found that this album has several islands of tracks that make risking the shame that comes with being a fan of this album. “Me So Horny” is such a great representation of what is to come in the next 75 minutes. Some others include the aforementioned, “I Ain’t Bullshittin’,” “Get Loose Now,” and the closing tracks, “Mega Mixx III,” and “Coolin’.” While there’s hardly a song that clocks in under 4 minutes, you’ll wish they had every track about as long, if shorter. This is where their ambition gets the best of them: in their attempt to shock and awe everyone, they forgot that it wears off after about 40 minutes or so. There is a short version of this album, but since it’s about 30 minutes long, you can guarantee that it’s literally the clean one. But we don’t want to hear them clean, we want to hear them dirty, right?

Sure we do! Just don’t beat us over the head with it! After a while you begin to realize just how phallic this album really is: it’s long, it’s hard, it’s superficial, it’s strained and forced, bulging with shock humor, and ultimately its tip is to have sex every day, with anyone, and however you can, for as often as you can. Once you realize this, some times it does feel as though you’re in the presence of a giant penis near you that wants to smack you in your face while listening to the album

But should we be ashamed of liking this? Let’s consider the Crew’s intentions: they made a party album that never really loses that momentum you would expect at a dance club. And by all means it should. Trying to listen to it straight through in your room with headphones does not fulfill its true purpose. If you are going to listen to it, do it in small chunks at a time. However, I doubt it will make it seem less monotonous. But before I review this to death, I can sum it up with simply this: it is as nasty as what it should be.

Lyrics: 6/10
Length: 6/10
Meaning: 4/10
Music: 7/10
Significance: 7/10
Overall Impression: 6/10

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