Gangsta-rap collections are sometimes thick with clichés, but
that may be the point.
There are two ways of looking at the soundtrack to "Whiteboys," a film
that follows the humorous adventures of a fictional crew of white
gangsta-rap fans from Iowa who try to make a splash as rappers in
Chicago. You can listen and smile as the gangsta-rap clichés
roll past your ears and hope the artists were instructed to make songs
that would appeal to the film's characters.
Or, you can listen to the album and cry about the unoriginal, copycat
state of the gangsta-rap union. The problem is, the lyrics aren't
startlingly original but most of the songs aren't outrageous enough to
be outright parodies, either.
Either way you look at it, the collection is thick and deep with
comic-book exaggerations rhymes about violence, partying, drug
dealing and life in the inner city. Hardcore gangsta-rap lyrics have
evolved a bit over the years, so writing rhymes in 1999 about dealing
crack or shooting gats without expressing apologies or showing
consequences sounds out-of-date, or worse, irrelevant. Such is the
problem that plagues this soundtrack, though the engaging production
saves the first half of the album.
Big Punisher and new female R&B vocalists 6430 start things off in a
promising fashion with "Who Is a Thug" (RealAudio excerpt), a pop-gangsta jam that shares
the same structure as Pun's "Still Not a Player": quick-lipped rhymes
over Latin-flavored loops, bridged by catchy R&B choruses. If it's
released as a single, it has the grooves and bounce it'll take to
crossover and earn the success garnered by "Still Not a Player."
DJ Hurricane and members of the Flipmode Squad's "Come Get It" (RealAudio excerpt)
follows, with the Flipmode Squad dropping antagonizing lyrics over the
Hurra's best imitation of a Jay-Z backing track. Rapper/producer
Soopafly then teams with Kurupt, Tray Deee and Daz Dillinger for
"Hell Ya," a layered, fast-paced tune with a thumping bass that has
dance floor written all over it.
After the first three tracks, though, the album begins a slow slide
into mediocrity. Snoop Dogg teams with film star T-Bo (Danny Hooch)
for "Whiteboys" (RealAudio excerpt) a G-Funk via No Limit song whose lyrical
content seemingly written in a parallel universe where
Beastie Boys, 3rd Bass and House of Pain never got their mad props
seems out of date by about a decade. For what it's worth,
T-Bo may be the first white Southern rapper which is actually a
refreshing change of pace from white rappers like Kid Rock and Fred
Durst who learned everything they need to know about rhyming from
Beastie Boys, Cypress Hill and House of Pain.
Raekwon's "Respect Power" and Canibus' "Watch Who You Beef Wid"
continue the slide each song contains a few lyrical zingers,
and both are designed to make heads bob. But both men are capable of
much better work.
Once Tommy Finger kicks in with "Paper Chasers (Up North)," the album
kicks into full suck mode. And we're talking known rappers here
Three 6 Mafia, Do or Die, the WhoRidas and Trick Daddy. With the
exception of Slick Rick and Common's "Don't Come My Way," tracks 717
are packed with recycled rhymes about ballers, players and gangstas
over beats that are barely passable, given the talent involved. There
have been been so many lyrical innovations the past few years in
gangsta rap, think Wu-Tang's sci-fi kung-fu or Tupac as
gangsta-with-a-conscience yet the artists on this album seem to
have missed the revolution.
Which, as I stated at the start of this review, may be the point of
the soundtrack. Perhaps the album is supposed to reflect the
unoriginal rap of the characters in "Whiteboys." If that was the
goal, more power to the producers they hit their mark.