Too Much, Too Little, Too Late

A brief history lesson: the Madd Rapper made his name appearing on interludes on Bad Boy albums by Ma$e, Puff Daddy and the LOX, comically harping that he was a great entertainer who wasn't getting the proper respect. Then Blaze magazine wrote about him, with an accompanying picture of — surprise! — prolific producer Deric "D-Dot" Angelettie. Allegedly upset that his cover was blown, Angelettie allegedly traveled with some associates to the Blaze offices and allegedly attacked then–Editor in Chief Jesse Washington, allegedly with an office chair. (Washington, who had previously alleged that Wyclef Jean had pulled a gun on him over a negative review of Canibus' Can-I-Bus, never followed through on assault charges in either case — a fact that led many to doubt his credibility.)

A year later, with Bad Boy's sales in decline, the Madd Rapper's Tell 'Em Why You Madd has finally hit the streets. Given all that preceded its release, the album seems almost a footnote, a vanity project released just after the public ceased to care about either the Madd Rapper or Angelettie. In the time it took him to drum up publicity for this album and then actually deliver it, the electro-funk of Swizz Beats and the Cash Money Millionaires has taken over the hip-hop charts, leaving D-Dot's disco-party loops and haunted urban soundscapes in the nostalgia bin.

As only about one-quarter of the album really works, Tell 'Em Why U Madd probably should have been an EP. And a fine EP it would've been, including such tracks as: the jumpy ego/alter ego head-bobber, "Dot Vs. TMR"; "How We Do," an engaging stab at relevance with TMR and Puff Daddy exchanging boasts over a pulsing electro track; "Stir Crazy" (RealAudio excerpt), featuring TMR and Eminem getting lyrically buck wild over a track that you would swear was from The Slim Shady LP but isn't; the R&B-laced "Ghetto," featuring Raekwon and Carl Thomas offering a somber urban vision; "Bongo Break," with Busta Rhymes busting in to shake the foundations; and finally, "How to Rob" (RealAudio excerpt), starring upstart 50 Cent in a hilarious fantasy of sticking up music stars.

Unfortunately, the rest of the album is too long and too out of date. How out of date? Ma$e, who has retired from the music biz and by all accounts is now living happily as a college student, pops up on "That's What's Happenin' " (RealAudio excerpt) to lay some uninspired lyrics over a bubbly disco track that only serves to remind the listener of the Bad Boy blueprint and how it has been used to great effect in songs that are not this one. Also badly served by the delay of the album's release are newcomers Erica Kane Babe Blu, Mae West, Desert Roze and Picasso Black — all of whom are stuck in warmed-over Wu-Tang tracks. Considering the Wu's dismal track record in '99, this probably wasn't a good idea.

After listening to this collection, we can now understand why the Madd Rapper should be mad — at himself, for failing to get his album out while the proverbial iron was hot. After all, as any rapper worth his rhymes and beats knows all too well, timing is everything.