September 23, 2007

Lost Boyz - Legal Drug Money (June 4, 1996)


In 1995, The Lost Boyz, whom I was disappointed to learn were not a group of rapping vampires, broke out of their Jamaica, Queens shell and sent a single, "Lifestyles Of The Rich & Shameless", around to radio; the ensuing success of which earned them a deal with Uptown Records. The group consists of members Freaky Tah, Pretty Lou, and Spigg Nice, who all seemed to be auxiliary for leader Mr. Cheeks, essentially the only actual rapper in the group. Their debut, Legal Drug Money, made itself known in 1996, and went on to sell over five hundred thousand copies, earning Mr. Cheeks and company a nice gold plaque to show their mothers as proof that they did something with their lives.

I'm not going to pretend that I know a lot about them, so this intro will be short; however, in doing my research, it seems that most of the Lost Boyz's story occurred after they hit it big. The most depressing part of their history is the murder of group member Freaky Tah in 1999, and while he didn't really contribute a hell of a lot to the songs (maybe a verse here and there, but he was mainly just a hypeman), his presence was still missed on their more recent output. In 2004, Spigg Nice was convicted of robbing multiple banks, and was sentenced to eleventy billion years in prison, but at this point in the group's career, nobody cared; Mr. Cheeks had moved on to releasing solo material, and hip hop was already looking the other way.

Legal Drug Money is one of those hip hop albums that many people retroactively consider a classic. Unlike, say, Graduation, enough time has passed that could justify the placement of that title on the Lost Boyz's debut, but I think I'll take a gander and see if it's deserved.

1. INTRO
Rap album intro. The only thing that kept my attention was the music playing in the background; lay down a different drum beat, and you'll have the instrumental for DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince's "Summertime".

2. THE YEARN
A lot of people forget about this track when they are compiling a list of Pete Rock's treats. The chorus is ridiculously stupid, but at least it promotes the use of condoms. The rest of the song is still pretty good today. For something even better, though, one should pick up the America is Dying Slowly compilation album, which was released to promote AIDS awareness among African-American youth; a remix of this song, featuring the same beat and lyrics, but featuring guest vox by Pete himself, is well worth your eartime.

3. MUSIC MAKES ME HIGH
This was one of the higher-charting singles, and I remember a video about an airplane or something, but listening to it today, it's a little too sing-songy for my tastes.

4. JEEPS, LEX COUPES, BIMAZ, & BENZ
The second single, brought to you by Easy Mo Bee and the good folks at Uptown Records. The title sounds awkward and materialistic, and it is, but the beat grabs you immediately and refuses to let go unless you pay the beat $100,000 in small, unmarked, nonsequential bills. And it still sounds fucking good today, and what more can you ask for in a rap song?

5. LIFESTYLES OF THE RICH & SHAMELESS
The title leads you to believe that Easy Mo Bee produced a track that's all about the Paris's and Nicole's and Britney's of the world, but no, it's just another song about kids growing up in the wrong environment. That being said, well done. This is the aforementioned first single, and was my introduction to these young and talented vampires, and still sounds great today.

6. RENEE
I first heard this on the soundtrack to Don't be A Menace While Trying To Write Out The Full Title Of This Horrible Fucking Movie. Kind of like The Notorious B.I.G.'s "Me & My Bitch", where the guy and girl fall for each other but something tragic happens to the girl, except here, she's not called a "bitch", so there's a thematic difference right from the jump. The chorus isn't good, but the beat is fantastic, if a bit simplistic.

7. ALL RIGHT
And so it begins. This song is not "all right"; it sounds like a lazy copy of the first five actual songs combined into some bizarre amalgam of bullshit.

8. LEGAL DRUG MONEY
It's not like there's an unwritten law that states the title track had better be amongst the best on your CD, but come on; if you name your album after one of the weaker tracks, what does that say about your taste? Freaky Tah drops a verse here that sounds forced; he also reveals that this song was recorded in 1994, which is weird, because you'd think it would sound better.

9. GET UP
This song was the final single released from Legal Drug Money, and I always hated it. Guess what? Nothing changed. This song still sucks.

10. IS THIS DA PART
The production is better than the lyrics involved deserve. Whatever happened to Easy Mo Bee, anyway?

11. STRAIGHT FROM DA GHETTO
Meh.

12. KEEP IT REAL
Actually not bad, but nowhere near the level promised by the first few tracks.

13. CHANNEL ZERO
It's kind of weird that the Lost Boyz had a song called "Channel Zero", and Canibus, who used to be down with the Lost Boyz before defecting to the Refugee Camp, also had a song called "Channel Zero" on his debut, although Mr. Cheeks appeared (uncredited) on the hook to the Canibus song, so I guess that makes it okay. Moderately interesting story, whipped up from the mind of Max, to cover up the fact that this song isn't worth writing about.

14. DA GAME
The bass and minor drums sound weak and Xeroxed from any number of other, better songs. There is a slight hint of melody, though, that almost redeems the instrumental. Too bad the lyrics suck the life out of "Da Game" with the quickness.

15. 1, 2, 3
Hey, I can count to three, too! This song gives me one bitch of a headache, life is "two" short to waste on listening this far into Legal Drug Money, and, if pressed, I can come up with three trillion songs that are better than this crap. And I'm not saying this just because this seems to be the Lost Boyz bizarro song (Tah on the vocals, and Cheeks in the hypeman role); I'm saying this because I only speak the truth.

16. LIFESTYLES OF THE RICH & SHAMELESS (REMIX)
Unnecessary, inappropriate, and can be chalked up as an complete bastardization of a good song. The beat to this remix sounds fucking, well, shameless. And just so my two readers know, I'm actually in a really good mood this afternoon, so this song really must suck.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Legal Drug Money is one of those albums that I picked up used, after the six (six!) singles had come and gone. Since I only paid seven bucks for this CD, I shouldn't complain, but I will anyway. Besides a pointless rap album intro (aren't all non-Prince Paul intros useless, anyway?), the album has an incredibly strong start, and after "Lifestyles...", falls apart completely. There are older rap albums that still hold up, and I hopefully will write about some really soon, but for now, I'm just shocked that the only listenable songs on this CD were also the fucking singles.

BUY OR BURN? I can't recommend a purchase; download the songs I list below, plus the version of "The Yearn" featuring Pete Rock, and the "Music Makes Me High" remix with Tha Dogg Pound and Canibus, and you'll be straight.

BEST TRACKS: "Jeeps, Lex Coupes, Bimaz, & Benz"; "Lifestyles Of The Rich & Shameless"; "The Yearn"; "Renee"

-Max

7 comments:

  1. Max man,
    i can agree with you being fed up with all those intros and skits but when you say that only the Prince Paul are worth listening to ... hm almost only Prince Pauls:
    When preparing that ODB poll vote I listened to that return to the 36 chambers intro Dirty made and it made me realize what a crazy genius we've lost almost 3 years ago . That intro shows everyone who ODB was back in the day and why I still miss him today , sigh ... great intro !!!

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  2. Tcha: that ODB record was always my favorite solo wu joint. Max: is there any other non-southern record that uses "shorty" more?

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  3. Now that you mention it, no, I don't think so; doe sthis mean that the rapping vampires can also be categorized as trendsetters, or at least hip hop prophets?

    No. No it doesn't.

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  4. the most felonious vocalist in the wide world of showbusinessSeptember 28, 2007

    I believe that the relationship between Mr. Cheeks and Renee was fueled by smoking a ridiculous amount of blunts together rather than true love. I haven't listened to the song in a few years but as I remember it they smoked about 10 in the second verse alone.

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  5. I agree with the review. I still like the Lost Boyz sound a lot and would recommend the "Love Peace and Nappiness" album.

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  7. way off homie it is a classic

    ReplyDelete