Melvin Flynt: Da Hustler is almost worth the price of admission
just for the skit "The Pigeon," in which a blunt-smoking Noreaga explains
to a buddy that pigeons are just like roughneck hip-hop fans: they get
no respect, they don't give a fuck and you're not going to see them go
chirp-chirp-chirp in some tree. He concludes his mini-rant by declaring
that if pigeons were humans, they'd be thugs.
And if they were rappers, we'd be a lucky bunch of music fans, if they
all produced gangsta-rap albums as engaging as Melvin Flynt: Da Hustler,
Noreaga's second solo album.
Last year, Noreaga's hard-hitting electro "Superthug" painted him as,
well, a superthug, but this year he's had a change of heart in the persona
of Melvin Flynt (part Jack Nicholson's character in "As Good as It Gets,"
part infamous porn publisher Larry Flynt). As an alter-ego, Melvin Flynt
isn't as distinctive from its creator as Bowie's Ziggy Stardust, Bono's
The Fly or Eminem's Slim Shady, but the music and beats on this disc are
tight enough to make up for any shortcomings in character development.
Noreaga spends a good portion of the album talking about the means to
his ends, over electro loops that sometimes feel like a punch ("Cocaine
Business [Hysteria]," "Flagrant Cops") and at other times feel like a
threatening stare from across the room ("Oh No" [RealAudio
excerpt], "Going Legit").
The most hustle-centric songs on the album "Da Hustla," "Cocaine
Business (Hysteria)" (RealAudio
excerpt) and "Blood Money Pt. 3" are among its best
And just to keep ya' on your toes, Noreaga gets philosophical on "Sometimes" (RealAudio
excerpt) and "First Day Home."
Lyrically, however, Noreaga shows no growth a crime he cops to
in the album's liner notes. In particular, his "what-what?!" chant once
again dominates, long after it has worn out its welcome.
Only the most hard-core Noreaga fans will (or should) buy this CD for
the lyrics the true treasures here are musical.
Though helmed by an army of producers, a unified sound of layered
electro-funk manages to be consistent from start to finish. The bass-heavy
"Cocaine Business (Hysteria)," the steel-drum flavored "First Day Home"
the Southern bounce of "Play That Shit" (featuring Juvenile) and the
hardcore "Wethuggedout" (featuring Missy Elliott) could all have come
from very different albums, but the stuttering beats and synth-driven
grooves pull them into a tight package.
Ultimately, Melvin Flynt: Da Hustler stands out because it is an
actual hip-hop album as opposed to the three-good-singles-and-a-buncha-crap
that many rap albums turn out to be.
Going back to Noreaga's (right on the money) pigeon metaphor he's
just thrown some wonderfully exotic bread to his fans. Waddle on over
and get yourself a crumb before some old man throws down some Wonderbread.