REVIEW: The Beatnuts – A Musical Massacre

A Musical Massacre

Artist: The Beatnuts

Album: A Musical Massacre

Label: Loud

Rating: 8 / 10

Reviewer: DJ MF

Beatnuts. Pretty cocky to be calling yourselves that don’t you think? I mean, if you’re gonna call your group that, you’d better have the skills to back it up, otherwise you’re gonna be clowned on a massive scale. The Beatnuts, out of NY, and comprised of Psycho Les and Ju Ju, are known throughout the hip hop world as beatmakers that few can touch, and thus far into their careers, have lived up to their names and then some. On this, their fourth commercial release, the Beatnuts expand on this reputation, increase their verbal skills, and still bump the party.

Here we go yo-

1) Intro
I’m normally not too fond of opening skits, only because they normally bog down the LP right away, unless they’re short and sweet. This one ISN’T short, but it is very sweet. A classic Beatnuts beat to get you warmed up, and some ill cutting of old Beatnuts rhymes. A great opener, and got me eagerly awaiting the rest of the LP.

2) Beatnuts Forever (feat. Triple Seis and Marlon Manson)
While not necessarily the proper first single from the LP, it was the first track leaked to DJ’s, and rightfully so. This song is bananas beatswise. Some very heavy bass, and some nice drums. The real treat is the background, which is made up of a sweeping violin rhythm. Beautiful, and something you don’t necessarily hear everyday in hip hop. The lyrics center on how they’re gonna stick around forever, and the best lyrics on this one come courtesy of Triple Seis in the chorus, better known as a member of Fat Joe’s Terror Squad, and Ju Ju in the verses proper. An underground classic.

3) Muchachacha (feat. Willie Stubz and Swinger)
A very funky bassline opens this up, and it gives off a Latin vibe. Otherwise is pretty basic apart from that, and everything really revolves around the bassline. Stubz and Swinger are both fairly mediocre MC’s, and don’t do much for me. I like the sample used for the chorus though, “Cha cha cha, forward, back, cha cha cha, back forward.” A fun song, but nothing that stands out.

4) I Love It
This tracks starts off with a sung hook by an unnamed female, and quickly enters into the lyrics. The bassline on this sounds almost rubbery, and they’ve used an echo effect on the kicks to give the beat almost an underwater sound. Very nice, but basic. The vocals don’t do much for me, but there are some funny lines- “What you love, losin’ with a push and a shove, who you think lent OJ the glove?”

5) Slam Pit (feat. Cuban Linx and Common)
Little skit to start things off, and after the gunshots fade, we get in my mind the best beat on the LP. HEAVY bassline, and a gorgeous looped piano roll. Also on the bass drop, you get a pretty cool sounding sound effect. The overall effect is very frantic. Before Cuban, also of Terror Squad drops a nice verse, you get a scratched portion introducing him, and then a scratched portion introduces the Beatnuts verse, which is also very nice. After this, you get a sampled voice saying “Common Sense gonna tell ya!”, and Common just RIPS it, unlike his newest album. This is the Common I wish would come out more. Overall, probably my fave track on here, and that’s saying a lot, since there are a lot of great tracks on the LP.

6) Wild, Wild, What!
Just a simple intermission type cut, timing in at 45 seconds, and I think it’s used to slow down the pace in preparation for the next cut. Nice jazzy instrumental though.

7) Look Around (feat. Dead Prez and Cheryl Pepsi Riley)
And here’s the slower cut I was referring to. A BEAUTIFUL beat, probably the most moody on the LP. I mean, I listen to this, and I can feel the pain that the song talks about, with what sounds like an orchestra of strings playing in the background, and the simple drum and bass beat. I LOVE this. The vocals are also among the most socially relevant I’ve ever heard from the Nuts, and you can probably point to Dead Prez’ involvement as a reason for that. The lyrics deal with the deterioration of communities, and the harsh realities of trying to grow up in the ghetto, and as a minority. A great song, and the chorus also doesn’t let down.

8) Cocotaso (feat. Tony Touch)
A very cool rubbery sounding bassline again. Simplicity works best sometimes. And then every once in a while, you get a cartoonish sounding orchestral portion, like something you’d hear in a Bugs Bunny cartoon. Tony Touch starts things off, and shows why he should stick to behind the decks with his painful delivery, although the actual lyrics aren’t that bad and are pretty clever. No vocal participation from the Nuts on this one.

9) Monster For Music
Wow, another very inventive beat. A fast paced piano loop on this one, and a darker bassline, as Ju and Les tell you how much they love music. The treat on this is the chorus where they loop in a vocal sample saying “I’m a monster for music” but they stagger it so it sounds very cool. And then later on, you get a very sinister sounding bassline accentuating the dark beat even further. The last 25 seconds switches it up into a standard breakbeat, and the chorus is looped through again. I like it alot.

10) Spelling Beatnuts With Lil’ Donny
Humourous skit detailing what each letter in Beatnuts stands for. I listened to it once, but not again, and you’ll probably do the same.

11) Puffin’ On A Cloud
A useless little interlude to start, and then a middle eastern sounding flute loops in, with a bass heavy track in the background. Also, you get a sung chorus that I just don’t feel too much. While the beat is interesting on this one, I didn’t feel the chorus too much, and it ruined the song for me. I think it’s because it was too SOFT of all things. The lyrics and the chorus just didn’t mesh.

12) Turn It Out (feat. Greg Nice)
A weird talking intro to the track, and then things get hectic in a hurry, with an absolutely BLAZING party beat. The bass is heavy and the drums are standard, but the bass drops are accentuated with a cool little horn. Repetitive but catchy as hell. You also get Greg Nice on the chorus here, and he’ll give you a headache if you listen to him too much, so I advise tuning him out if possible. A nice party track overall.

13) Rated R (feat. Nogoodus)
Wu-Tangish sounding beat on this one, with an atmospheric noise in the background, and a nice dark piano loop. The Nogoodus only add to the Wuish feeling I’m getting with their similar rhyme style. I like this, but not on any huge scale. A pretty non-descript track in the end, although I do like the semi-scratches in the beat.

14) Who You’re F#$kin’ Wit
An old funk sample starts this off, sounds James Brownish. However, the beat appears to be wasted as this is used strictly as another intermission type track. A pity. I wish I could waste beats like this.

15) Story 2000 (feat. Patrick Blazy)
An old school sounding beginning and drum beat to start, and we’re promised a story about girls. The beat itself is simple, but complex. Simple drum claps and kicks, but there’s this bass “presence” for lack of a better word that comes in every once in a while, in addition to an upbeat piano roll loop. Very interesting. The story rhyme, although misogynistic for the most part, is VERY funny, talking about a courtship of sorts. Fun track.

16) Watch Out Now
The lead single, and most known song on the LP, this really thrust the Nuts into the pop spotlight. You’ve probably heard this without even knowing it. An absolutely infectious flute loop is used throughout, and the drums and bass are custom made for good stereo systems and clubs. Throw in the cool little “watch out now” vocal sample, and you’ve got a near perfect club song.

17) You’re A Clown (feat. Biz Markie and Tyler Fernandez)
The unmistakeable voice of the Biz starts this song off, and the beat is off the hook on this as well. It sounds like a circus, fitting in with the title of the track. It’s really cool how they’ve interspersed the loop into a hip hop beat actually, and I’m surprised no one had done it before this. The song centers on how others act like clowns without even knowing it, leading to some funny lines, especially in the chorus – “I saw you at a party uptown, nobody even know you, you just standing around” and “Lookin through the records I found, it takes more than that for you to duplicate this sound.” When Biz comes in, I’m laughing pretty hard, as he’s just Biz, and nothing else I can say will do him justice. Funny vocals and a unique beat make this a winner.

18) Buddah In The Air (feat. Carl Thomas and Gob Boblin of the No Goodus)
Kind of a letdown after the last three cuts, and the beat sounds very unlike everything else on the album, with an obvious R&Bish tinge that I’m not feeling. Interesting chimes, and I don’t mind Carl Thomas too much, but I don’t think this type of song belongs on a Beatnuts album.

19) Se Acabo (It’s Over) (feat. Magic Juan from Proyecto Uno and Swinger)
Another cut leaked to the underground, in addition to the remix with Method Man, which was better in my mind, and was eventually released on their newest LP, “Take It Or Squeeze It”. However, this track is solid too, don’t get me wrong. Trademark Beatnuts drums and bass, and what sounds like a person murmuring as a recurring loop throughout the song. You also get horns accentuating the bass again, and the looped sample saying “Se Acabo” makes me smile everytime I hear it. The vocals on this are Spanish, so you won’t understand what’s going on, but the flows are still on point. A pretty cool cut.

Looking back, it seems the Nuts achieved what they wanted with this LP. With the success of ‘Watch Out Now’, they gained acceptance in the commercial hip hop community, but still managed to be respected in the underground, a tough feat. The only thing they need to work on is lyrics. While they come up with a funny line every now and then, they mostly base their lyrics on violence and sex, and usually in not the most imaginative ways. Apart from that, this album is a masterpiece in terms of beats, and should provide hours and hours of listening pleasure.

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