Various Artists – Take a Bite Outta Rhyme

Train wrecks. The World’s Scariest Police Chases. When Animals Attack. Faces of Death, One through Six, including the best of tape. I have an unquenchable thirst for the sick, the twisted, the morose, for experiencing the horrors of all mankind – which is the only possible explanation I have for wanting to hear this disc.

There’s a fairly narrow target audience for this CD. Listeners would have to like both nu metal bands and old school rap, and I probably sit directly in the center of this demographic bull’s eye. Even though I’m a big metalhead now, I spent many hours cruising around with old school LL Cool J, Beastie Boys, and Ice-T tapes in my car back in the day.

At least two of the tracks on Take A Bite Outta Rhyme have appeared on different albums. The Bloodhound Gang’s rendition of “It’s Tricky” and Dynamite Hack’s acoustic/folk version of “Boyz-N-The-Hood” both made it into MTV rotation, and may have been the inspiration for the rest of the album. What’s left is a hodge podge of hits and misses. To truly appreciate each song, you need to (A) like the performing band, and (B) know the original song. Unless you’re a big fan of both genres, this isn’t going to happen too often.

Rarely do I go through and comment on each song of an album for a review, but since these songs are so different I thought, what the heck, why not?

01 – Bring the Noise – Staind
If you can’t improve on the original, why do it? Staind changes the riff but keeps the lyrics in their version, and adds a heavy ending.

02 – Going Back to Cali – Sevendust
The synthesised trumpet at the beginning is truly, truly weak, but Sevendust ends up pulling out one of the best songs on the disc. Heaviness mixed with a good sense of humor.

03 – Sucker M.C.’s – Lordz of Brooklyn w/ Everlast & Stoned Soul
Un-Forgettable — without the “Un”.

04 – Boyz-N-The-Hood – Dynamite Hack
You’ve probably already seen this yuppieish version of the Eazy-E classic on MTV. More of a novelty song than anything; Dynamite Hack’s album is much better than this single.

05 – Posse on Broadway – Insane Clown Posse
ICP never pass up an opportunity to offend, and their rendition of Posse On Broadway is no exception. The clowns of rap (literally) rework the words of this classic to include a lot more four letter ones. The music sounds just like the original, so it’s more like clown karaoke.

06 – It’s Tricky – Bloodhound Gang
From The Bloodhound Gang’s CD “One Fierce Beer Coaster”. A classic cover version of a classic song.

07 – My Mind Playin’ Tricks on Me – Kottonmouth Kings
Not one of my favorite old school rap songs, but the Kottonmouth Kings do it justice. Pretty faithful to the original, but with real drums.

08 – Microphone Fiend – Fun Lovin’ Criminals
When I read the liner I was like, “oh no. Please do not let the same people who recorded ‘Scooby Snacks’ ruin this rap classic.” Fortunately, FLC does the song justice with a faithful remake of the classic, even down to the cool, breath-heavy lyrics.

09 – New Jack Hustler – Dope
Sounds a little too nu-metal for me. Dope tries, but Ice-T’s little pinky packs more attitude than this whole band.

10 – White Lines (Don’t Do It) – Driver
Uh, who? I’m not familiar with the band OR the original, but the song is semi-enjoyable. The most annoying thing is that DJ scratching on top of the music. A true DJ is PART of the band, not just plopped down on top of the final mix.

11 – Bring the Pain – Mindless Self Indulgence
Dear lord this song is so unlistenable. It’s like they found out how to make audio loops, made 200 of them, and decided to use them all in one song. Sounds like Static-X on crack – and no, that’s not a good thing.

12 – Insane in the Brain – Factory 81
How anything that came out after I graduated high school could be considered “old school” rap is beyond me. Another example of a song that didn’t really need remaking. Cypress Hill’s annoying “screech” samples have been replaced by annoying guitar wah pedal noises. That’s not an improvement.

13 – The Tribute – Nonpoint
Even though I kind of slammed Nonpoint’s CD in their review, this song is pretty heavy. “The Tribute” is a medley of several old rap songs, most of which I didn’t recognize. Props to the guys for throwing in a little Slick Rick “Bedtime Story” in there somewhere.

14 – Curly G (Bamm!) – Jerky Boys
This is just a short skit where the Jerky Boys act like they’re a rapper, call a record store, and harass the poor people working there. In between each sentence he yells out “BAMMMMMMMM!”. I didn’t think it was that funny, but for a week after hearing this CD I went around shouting “BAMMMMMMM!” at people too so maybe it was.

If you are just a fan of old school rap, avoid this album. If you are just a fan of nu-metal, avoid this album. If, however, you’ve dabbled in both worlds and recognize most of the songs and bands on the disc, you might want to pick it up – from a used bin, perhaps.

The CD reminded me (in spirit) of the old Saturday Morning Cartoon Theme Songs CD that came out a few years ago. Once the novelty of the whole thing wore off, who wanted to drive around listening to Matthew Sweet singing, “Scooby-Doo”, Sublime singing “Hong Kong Phooie,” or Dig doing the “Fat Albert” theme? Sure, it was funny a couple of listenings, but once the novelty wears off, there’s not much left. I felt the same way about Take A Bite Outta Rhyme. The first time you hear Sevendust scream, “I’M GOING BACK TO CALI!!!” you’ll laugh too, but after two or three listenings, where’s the love?

As with most tribute albums, the best thing about this disc is it made me go pull my old cassettes out of the garage and listen to the originals.

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