REVIEW: Mystikal – Tarantula

Tarantula

Artist: Mystikal

Album: Tarantula

Label: Jive

Rating: 6 / 10

Reviewer: A to the L

When Mystikal bounced from No Limit, and released “Lets Get Ready”, I have to admit I was attracted by the bouncy feel of the two Neptunes cuts ‘Shake Ya Ass’ and ‘Danger’, and so I picked the album up. Once the gloss had worn off the two lead singles though, I quickly found that the rest of the album didn’t really stand up to repeated listening.

You see, even with hot beats Mystikal is an acquired taste. He’s the only rapper who sounds like Dolemite, only AFTER swallowing three or four buckets of gravel. His rasping style seems to get nothing but love from some heads, but to this listener’s “raised-on-Big-Daddy-Kane” ears, I gotta admit that it really grates after a while. So with this in mind I approached this new release with an open mind, but also with a cautious eye on the clock, not wanting to expose those pretty little pink wings on the side of my head to anything more than necessary.

The first thing to grab you on listening to this album is the hot beats. Hooking up with the Neptunes again was a near certainty, but in addition to this Mystikal has brought in Rockwilder to the work the boards on a couple of tracks, and also employed the talents of his old homies the Medicine Men (formerly Beats By The Pound).

The lead single ‘Bouncin’ Back (Bumpin’ Me Against The Wall)’ starts things off. A mid tempo Neptunes beat with a catchy organ effect and saxophone hook combining to provide a Mardi Gras feel. Despite the bouncy club feel of this cut, Mystikal actually drops some knowledge on this, talking about the current world situation, the anthrax scares etc. A dope opening cut.

As for the Rockwilder cuts – well ‘Oh Yeah’ is a slow paced. heavy-on-the-bass track which is really no more than an average album track. On the other hand, the extremely hot ‘I Get It Started’ features Redman and Method Man, and stands out because of its high pitched Adam F-styled synths, and the fact that Mystikal lyrically holds his own against the Blunt Brothers.

Elsewhere, the title cut has a strong West Coast flavour – the Scott Storch beat sounding like something Snoop would feature on – a view seemingly reinforced by the presence of Butch Cassidy on the hook. ‘Settle The Score’ features Mystikal teaming up with Juvenile, who shows some skills behind the boards as well as on the mic.

The standout cut for me however was the wicked misogynism of ‘Pussy Crook’. Breaking all the rules of political correctness, Mystikal comes off with one of the funniest and memorable hooks of the year – “Dick don’t fail me now / I’ma knock the coochie lining out / If I hit one time you’re hooked / They call em the pussy crook.” There’s no doubt that he manages to get away with this with help from the Medicine Men beat – a dark, uptempo banger that will be doing damage to club dance floors very soon.

This is a definite improvement over “Lets Get Ready”, but unfortunately at a time when a slew of albums are being released to take advantage of the Christmas sales, it’ll suffer from being released around the same time as Wu-Tang’s “Iron Flag” and Nas’ “Stillmatic”. It’s style is a world away from these two releases however – Mystikal is never gonna win any awards for concious lyrics or witty wordplay, and the funky club beats are only there for you to shake your ass to. With this in mind, it has to be said then that Mystikal has achieved what he set out to do – he’s made a banging album. The replay factor however is a major thing for me, and I have to say that I couldn’t see myself continually coming back to it.

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