Head-On Debut You Won't Forget Till Next Year

It may not be a late-model Mercedes of a disc but it's not a 1972 Gremlin, either.

Master P's well-named No Limit label blissfully ignores the vagaries

of the '90s overproduction epidemic. And flaunts it as if it were an

irreverent punk stance.

With its (at times) one-album-per-week release schedule and 70-minute

running times, No Limit seems to be all about the act of releasing

records with little differentiation between the products. The beats

are interchangeable, the star system is overcluttered. And there are

so many guest spots per album it's hard to remember whose disc you're

listening to.

Except when you listen to this one.

Maybe on most No Limit releases a hook is a hook and a def beat is a

def beat. But each of the 23 songs and skits on Mercedes' full-length

debut, Rear End, is memorable. Memorable enough for me to sing

to my cats at odd hours.

Our favorites are "Do You Wanna Ride" ([RealAudio excerpt] containing interpolations of

"Nasty Girl" and, natch, "Mercedes Boy") and the first single,

"It's Your Thing" ([RealAudio excerpt] a sultry, vaguely TLC-like slow-burn).

"N'S Ain't S**t" is a welcome update of Shanté's "Brothers

Ain't Shit" and "Kiss da Cat" (RealAudio excerpt) is an edifying pussy-eating lesson.

Not that these are songs per se. Laughably cheap and rushed, they're

more chants with the occasional rapped verse. And the chants are what

you remember and sing to your cats. But what did you expect? Dumb,

catchy chants are quicker to write than entire verses of rap. Besides,

the record works as is.

On the downside, Mercedes doesn't have a reality outside the bedroom

or apart from warring with other women over men. And it's damn near

impossible to swallow all 70 minutes of the disc in one sitting.

There ya have it. Did I enjoy Rear End? Sure. Will I remember

it same time next year? Probably not. Will Master P? Probably not.

He'll be too busy with his wrestling stint and his talking doll and

more confused (albeit intermittently hilarious) cine-epics and even

more records and ...