Sugar Walls

Here's a math problem for you: If Da Brat's previous album,

Anuthatantrum, came out in 1996 and her latest, Unrestricted,

was released in early 2000, what is the distance she'd have to travel to

stay current in the hip-hop world? If you said, "From G-Funk to Dirty

South in less than an hour," you are correct. Now, for extra credit,

can you name some artists who could show Da Brat a short cut? If you

said Lil' Kim or Foxy Brown, go to the head of the class. If you said

Salt-n-Pepa, Queen Latifah or MC Lyte, you're going to need a more

up-to-date textbook.

If the lyrics from the first two albums by Atlanta-by-way-of Chicago's

Da Brat (born Shawntae Harris) taught us anything, it was that she liked

to boast of her lyrical skills, liked to party and liked to have the

money to buy expensive things. These character traits are reinforced

on rough-edged Unrestricted songs such as "We Ready"

(RealAudio

excerpt) and "Back Up," although funk-fueled tunes including

"What's on Your Mind" and (especially) "Pink Lemonade" (RealAudio

excerpt) teach us something new about Da Brat — namely,

that she apparently has quite a voracious sexual appetite.

Take, for example, the album's best track, "That's What I'm Looking

For" (RealAudio

excerpt). The song burns with the horn-accented hot pulse of

a sweaty dance club as Da Brat lists in rapid pace the attributes a

man needs to get her off: "A big bank roll and a bag of weed" and the

ability to "Bump and grind all night/ Until we reach a climax/ Make

sure you leave a fat sack/ For Brat/ Until you come back/ For more."

Meanwhile, "Pink Lemonade," about the joys of cunnilingus, just may

have done such songs as TLC's "Ain't Too Proud to Beg" and the Yeastie

Girls' "You Suck" one better by celebrating the under-studied phenomenon

of female ejaculation. With such lyrics as "I could slip down your

throat if you'd let me," "Hurry up and get a cupful" and "I'm weighed

in at 1-3-5/ A Big Gulp size," it does makes one wonder.

Not that this album will be mistaken for a lame Hoes With Attitude

(whatever happened to them, anyway?) disc. Da Brat may have discovered

the joys of rhyming about the beast with two backs, but she never lets

her style sink below par. While her rhymes aren't very unique, she's

still crafted her quick-lipped Midwest delivery to perfection, bobbing

and weaving around the aggressive beats like a hungry, contending

prizefighter.

Some may cry "sell out" when they hear all the sex rhymes Da Brat kicks

on this album. Well, they're wrong. Unrestricted actually

represents the most complete picture yet of Da Brat — a woman with

desires to drink, smoke, rap and get her swerve on. If she ever picks

up a thesaurus, she just might knock everyone out. In the meantime, she

just impresses.