The past two years may have been a fine time for teen pop acts, but the
same cannot be said for teen rap acts. No Limit's Lil' Soldiers, Biv 10
Pee Wee All-Stars and A+ all failed to capture the attention of a public
that had begrudgingly allowed at least one hit to pubescent playas
like Kris Kross, Skee-Lo and Special Ed.
Up next on the chopping block is Baby DC, a 13-year-old protégé
of infamous pimp rapper Too $hort. This youngster raps about roller skating
in lieu of rollin', fighting in video games instead of fighting in the
streets and schoolboy crushes rather than streetcorner braggadocio. And
that's not even mentioning the lyrics in "Stayin on Top," which tell of
sneaking girls into his house ... to see his home studio.
Baby DC breaks away from the shadow of his teacher in his lyrics. Too
$hort swears so much he even had to invent the now-ubiquitous "biiiootch"
to keep himself ahead of the game. Baby DC, on the other hand, never gets
more risqué than inviting a whole cheerleading squad to Six Flags
on "Candy Girl." Baby DC also is a quicker rapper than Too $hort could
ever hope to be, as he amply demonstrates on "Candy Girl" and "Give Me
Mine," which features an all-too-brief guest appearance by "Yay Area"
Musically, however, School Daze doesn't fall too far from the Too
$hort tree. Its best songs "Bounce, Rock, Skate, Roll" (RealAudio
excerpt), "Candy Girl," "That Ain't Much (It's a School Boy Crush)" (RealAudio
excerpt) and "Get Your Hustle On" feature Baby DC rapping
slow-drawl style over familiar funk loops a rap blueprint first
perfected by Too $hort. Driving this point home is "That Ain't Much (It's
a School Boy Crush)," which uses the same beat and guitar loop as Too
$hort's "Life Is ..."
There are excursions into other rap subgenres, some of which work, as on
the mournful Master P-esqe "Papa Was a Soldier (R.I.P.)," some of which
don't (the rah-rah Southern Bounce of "Say Uhh Ohh," the Mase-like "I'm
Feelin' You"). On the whole, though, Baby DC plays it close to the thick,
rolling bass sound closely identified with his Oakland, Calif., hometown.
He has some rap chops good timing, funny punchlines but
there isn't much here that makes the listener think Baby DC is a Bold
Not all teen rappers end up in the cut-out bin. LL Cool J was all of 16
when he first hit the scene, for example. But LL knocked the ball out of
the park with "Radio" and never stopped running the bases. Baby DC, however,
is just playing pick-up games, driving solid shots up the middle but never
earning more than a double. With some hard training in the off-season,
he might morph into a better player, but for now, he's just average.