– Crown Royal – Arista
Street Date: 02/27/2001
There is the point in every 80s and early 90s rock star when he has to make a choice. Take a dayjob, star in B-grade porn, do infomercials or... release another album. In past years we have been graced by the efforts of Onyx, Slick Rick - even the Spice Girls have avoided the harsh reality of obscurity by pooling funds and regurgitating another album. And so, like the tired Grecian metaphor from the ashes, does Run DMC ascend to release another album. To avoid ridicule and any chance at failure, they featured (or, much rather were featured by) a number of today’s top-billed artists. This type of networking has worked for Santana, Everlast and a number of others in that it introduced a whole new body of fans to the other person’s material. Will it work for Run DMC?
The odd thing is that the one solo track sounds a lot more modern and distanced from the 80s style than the joints. If there is one thing ‘wrong’ with the album as a whole it is that Run DMC gave the featured artists too much creative control on the tracks - the album ends up sounding like a compilation. If you don’t like the featured artist, you’re not going to like the track. Period. (With the exception of Kid Rock. I hate Kid Rock with a passion, but the track sounds so much like something Anthrax would have done in ‘92 that his cheesiness is appropriate.) On most of the joint tracks the beats and rhythms of the featured artist are used and merely laced with Run’s MC-ing. This makes for some interesting tracks, but it sort of devalues this album in respect of it being a Run DMC album.
Overall, I award the album three stars out of five. Some tracks are outstanding and are already in my constant playlist, but some are merely fillers, especially towards the end. My suggestion would be to check out the tracks you have questions about first on napster / over irc / wherever and make your decision based on it. Personally, I’d rather spend my $15.99 on some sushi (or one of Run’s old albums). The reason the networking I mentioned above is unlikely to work for Run DMC is that they gave way too much control to the featured artist. Sure, they do some MCing on the tracks, but largely it is still the featured artists style – unlikely to make people go out and buy or even get to know Run DMCs solo material.
- It’s over (featuring Jermain Dupri) – Booty bass style with sporadic lyrics, but Dupri seems to have adapted Puff Daddy’s annoying “I’m so cool” fashion of talking over the track, which kills the bounce. (++---)
- Queens Day (featuring Nas and Prodigy) – Not that Prodigy, but still a nice track. Soft but defined beats, a nice bass line, witty and flowing rhymes topped with a piano riff, all put into an original and alternating song structure. The closest this is to is the new Onyx album – words cannot do this track justice, grab it off napster and give it a listen yourself. (+++++)
- Crown Royal – The only solo track on the album and also the title track. Two bars of piano looped, dramatic strings, a slow and hard breakbeat and stereo-ized vocals. The effects are sort of trite, but they pulled it off. (+++--)
- Them girls (featuring Fred Durst) – Bouncy beats, feel good vocals and catchy guitar tracks make this track nice – for a few times. Know those songs that are cool the first few times you listen to them, but they get repetitive, get stuck in your head and you kinda drop them after a week? This is one of these, one of two on this album – if this becomes the “song of the month” or whatever, prepare to get really sick of it. Really, really sick. (+++++)
- The school of old (Featuring Kid Rock) – Anthrax! ANTHRAX! YES! No – wait... it only sounds like Anthrax during their “Killer Bees” period. It’s hard to resist yelling “…and I won’t stop rocking ‘till I retire,” the beats and guitars are so classic... If there’s one artist fit to pay homage to those days it’s Kid Rock. No one else could be so unoriginal and cheesy. =) (++++-)
- Take the money and run (Featuring Everlast) – much like Them Girls, but a bit less repetitive and more summery. Guitar strumming (Everlast style), a laid back breakbeat, Everlast and Run on the mic, witty lyrics and a reference to Pensacola. Does it get much better? Naaah. (+++++)
- Rock Show (feat. Stephan Jenkins) – Uhmm. This one went wrong someplace, it sounds like an angry fruit salad of styles, no blending whatsoever. The track opens with a rock sequence, goes into booty bass, back into rock and cheesy “alright, alright” voiceovers. Back to booty bass and back to rock. Interesting concept? Yes. Good execution? Hell no. (-----)
- Here we go (feat. Sugar Ray) – Remember Every Morning? Fly? Falls Apart? This track is a blend between stereotypical Run DMC rap-rock and an ozzy-ish guitar/vocal passage. The blend between the two is done well, but the rap passages could be a little more imaginative regarding lyrics. (+----)
- Ahhh (feat. Chris Davis) – One of those “story-telling” rap songs. There isn’t much to say about it – It starts nice, but little variation and lots of repetition of the chorus makes it rather forgettable. (++---)
- Let’s stay together (feat. Puff Daddy) – Uhm. Great track by Al Green, beautiful performance by Run DMC... but why does puff daddy insist on inserting “yeah” and “heh-heh” at random times? Or speaking over the hook? This would have been a five weren’t it for his rambling. I’m waiting for the “Puffy shuts the hell up mix.” Sorry. (+++--)
- - Ay papi (feat. Fat Joe) – Nice beat, the vocals are a little quiet, but it works – The hook could be a little more imaginative, but... it’s a decent track, worth listening to a few times. Nothing extraordinary though. (++---)
- Simmons Incorporated (feat. Method Man) – Lovely bounce, stereo bleeps and twerps and Mr. Meth’s passage is one of the best on this album. There is one passage though, between 1:00 and 2:40 that is incredibly TERRIBLE. Method man picks up the slack right afterwards and makes up for it… still a downer when you’re listening to the track though. (+++--)
Written by piq for PMind magazine (www.pmind.com), (c) February 5, 2001