Artist: The Beatnuts
Album: Milk Me
Rating: 7.5 / 10
Reviewer: A to the L
Everyone’s favourite crate diggers are back. After a lukewarm response to their last “Originators” full length, the duo of Psycho Les and JuJu have returned with their usual brand of tongue-in-cheek sexual humor on “Milk Me” which promises to tittilate as much for the quality of the beats as for the cowjuice-splashed model adorning the front cover.
For those who are unaware, Les and Ju are responsible not only for some damn fine beats but also for some crazy drunken and blunted antics which are often related over those damn fine beats. With no hint of airs of graces, the duo come off less like two of NY’s most respected beatmakers and rhymers, and more like your drunken mate in the pub who is forever regaling you with tales of his bedroom escapades.
Shifting from Loud Records after its collapse to the smaller indie Penalty Recordings has certainly allowed the ‘Nuts even more creative freedom, but has come at a cost. The budget for the last album was smaller in terms of ads and promotion, and coupled with the fact that it was decidedly patchy, meant that it quickly faded out of view. Regrouping, the duo request another hearing on the entirely self-produced “Milk Me” which boasts guest appearances from unofficial 3rd Beatnut Greg Nice, Rahzel, Akon, Freeway and AG amongst others.
‘Hot’ kicks things with Greg N-I-C-E garbling a simple chorus over as dark a horn loop as you’ll hear this year. Its when the ‘Nuts do simple shit like this that they’re at their best – the loop is simple but effective, the chorus is simple but effective, and Ju and Les are simple but effective on the mic : in one breath almost chilling in their issuing of threats, the next leaving you doubled you over with their deadpan delivery of a cutting punchline.
‘Buggin’ continues to push things in a positive direction with a loop straight from the “Stone Crazy” days, supporting Ju, Les, and old school legend Prince Whipper Whip, before ‘Its Nothing’ blows the door wide open for the Beatnuts return. ‘This track features the same style of flute loop as classic nuts like ‘Watch Out Now’ and ‘Off The Books’ – in fact so close is this to ‘Books’ its hard not to expect Pun to pop up with a fresh verse. Instead though its left to DITC stalwart AG, and Gab Goblin to support JuJu and Les. AG especially doesn’t disappoint with a sparkling quotable:
“Its going down like Geronimo :
Niggas call me A like Honor Roll, sick like common cold,
The most prolific, I’m so gifted,
That’s why everyday I should celebrate Christmas,
Shit is the bomb wanna get it like Sean
John or Carter, then split it with moms,
Held down jails like BVDs,
I write movies, put this verse down on DVDs.”
The cynical among us would probably expect a stumble around now, after such a strong opening, and even in this regard, the ‘Nuts don’t disappoint – ‘Find Us’ is absolute shit : a lifeless attempt at a club song that screams commerciality not only due to the sappy beat, but also for the inclusion of current Hot 97 posterboy Akon on the contrived hook. Its truly horrific, and is totally out of place on the album.
Thankfully, ‘U Nomsayin’ pulls things back out of music-for-cheerleaders territory, and despite the fact that the beat isn’t really THAT interesting, ANYTHING sounds good compared to ‘Find Us’. Freeway attacking the beat in his normal non-rhyming rabid dog manner also helps to lift the mood somewhat. ‘We Don’t Give a Funk’ is similar in that anywhere else on the album it could easily be skipped over as filler, but due to the ear wounding from two tracks previous, this is almost classic sounding in comparison. ‘Confused Rappers’ though definitely sticks out as filler, with its boring piano loop and tepid Rahzel guest appearance.
Order is restored with ‘All Night’ where a trademark bouncy organ loop announces a return to form. As Chris Chandler croons an addictive hook, Les and Ju continue to issue threats to wack emcees and invitations to foxy ladies :
“If she’s fake, have her on my dick til her knees breaks,
Leave her with her whole face looking like cheesecake,
Smoke buddha, sharp shooter never squeeze late,
Junkyard live from New York on a beat tape.”
‘Madness’ and ‘We Gettin’ Paper’ continue the quality ascension away from the Akon-infused horror from a few tracks ago. ‘Madness’ is a strange hybrid of NY beats and LA funk, with Roger Troutman-styled talk box ramblings on the hook and stabs of the same guitar that Diddy used to tell us he needed a girl flitting in and out of the mix. ‘We Gettin’ Paper’ meanwhile is pure NY thug Hiphop – a slow ramble through moneymaking boasts, and murderous promises to potential cashflow threats from both ‘Nuts and their guests Triple Seis and Colion.
Things continue with ‘Uh Huh’, one of the strongest tracks on the album, and again, one where the Beatnuts succeed by applying their simple formula. Built around a demented muppet repeating the title phrase, JuJu and Les link up with Tony Touch and Gab Goblin to again destroy the track. Goblin especially shines :
“Front like your crew be spazzing – I wave a uzi at em,
And then spit a whole clip out with enthusiasm,
I don’t care if your jewellery saggin’
Keep running your mouth off, and I’ma put more holes in your body than a golf course,
Boss, who are you to floss?
I’ll have you spitting up chunks resembling barbeque sauce”
Coming after this, ‘Down’ and ‘Freak Off’ are exposed for the filler tracks they really are, and would normally be a disappointing end to a solid album. Luckily though, we’re dealing with the Beatnuts, and in traditional fashion, they tack on a quality hidden track after the tiresome ‘Milk Me’ Outro, which again has the listener harking back to the “Stone Crazy” days with its bubbly organ hook and dark electric guitar tones. A welcome return to form for the ‘Nuts then – look out for this.