April 23, 2008

My Gut Reaction: Yung Berg - Almost Famous: The Sexy Lady EP (July 24, 2007)

I've done a few write-ups on EPs, and have always held the opinion that an unproven rap artist would do better to release a shorter, tighter compilation of songs as a debut, rather than the industry standard, stuffing ridiculous skits between twenty rushed songs by twenty different producers, aiming for every possible demographic. It's rare when an artist in the quote-unquote mainstream actually utilizes this approach, so in the interest of fairness, I figured I would do a quick bit on Yung Berg's Almost Famous: The Sexy Lady EP, even though I have a feeling that I already know how this review will end. (Maybe that's why I don't usually review new shit.)

Yung Berg is a Chicago rapper that has apparently been around for quite a while, which makes no sense when you realize he's only like twenty-one years old. He was actually signed to DMX's Bloodline Records label (as Ice Berg); indeed, he apparently even has a song on the Exit Wounds soundtrack, a film that also starred DMX and is not a highlight on anyone's resume. That may have been the only record released on Bloodline, now that I think about it; afterwards, Ice Berg faded into what should have been obscurity, but it's amazing what a name change and a hit single on the radio will do for you. Yung Berg reinvented himself as the seventeenth most popular rapper from Chicago, falling right behind Kanye West, Common, Twista, Lupe Fiasco, Rhymefest, those guys from Do Or Die, Da Brat, Ludacris (seriously), the chicks in Infamous Syndicate, etc.

Epic Records, in a rare show of caution, elected to capitalize the hit single "Sexy Lady" by only allowing Yung Berg to release an EP, which would eventually become Almost Famous: The Sexy Lady EP, with the promise that if it sold well enough, his full-length follow up, Look What You Made Me, would see release shortly after. After a strong first week on the Billboard charts, though, the disc quickly dropped off the face of the Earth, and who knows where that follow-up is.

No big loss, I'm sure.

(Disclaimer: I didn't actually buy this album. What, did you expect otherwise? I thought my two readers would have figured out some of my musical tastes by now. No, this album I actually checked out from the library, no joke, and the fact that I didn't have to pay for this, combined with the knowledge that I can return this to the original owners with ease, probably persuaded me to agree to this write-up in the first place.)

I had heard this on the radio (yes, my two readers, I'm not immune to what passes as hip hop on the airwaves today), and paid it no mind, as it's not really my thing, but in forcing myself to listen to it, I learned something: the lyrics on here are pretty insipid, and the hook is on some fake T-Pain shit, but I actually like the hypnotic club groove that passes as the beat.

The vibe I get from the hook is that the girl in question isn't really into the guy, but the guy plans on forcing himself on her anyway. Yep, rape is both entertaining , and you can dance to it. The random boasts from the three rappers on this dumbass posse cut remind me a bit of the only halfway decent line Lil Wayne has ever spit on wax: "My kicks fly, like Liu Kang" (from Shawty Lo's "Dey Know" remix; yes, I do listen to the crap from today). However, the rhymes from these three no-names are nowhere near as humorous as that line, but that doesn't change my opinion on The Most Overrated Rapper In The Game.

As Yung Berg is just like every rapper ever, he invited Twista to his recording sessions, commissioned a beat that would better fit Twista's speedy flow rather than his own, forcing him to adapt to it rather than be comfortable on his own album, and, subsequently, is murdered on his own shit. That sounds like quite a feat coming from Twista, but rest assured that ninety percent of my two readers that read this blog could probably out-rap Berg at any given time.

Is Yung Berg a fan of Cameron Crowe films? Alas, probably not so much, since he compares himself to Tom Cruise's Ethan Hunt character from the Mission: Impossible flicks during the intro. I was really hoping for some drops from Patrick Fugit and instrumental backing by Stillwater on this song, which is the only track in which Yung Berg doesn't have a guest appear, but instead I got some cookie-cutter claptrap.

Maybe I'm mistaken, but I'm pretty sure the radio version of this remix uses the exact same beat as the original; on the EP, this remix has added elements that make it sound more artistic than it deserves to be. Posse cuts with rappers that don't really run in the same circles have always puzzled me, since I would think that the chemistry with your superior rap brethren (or your weed carriers) would sound better than choosing guests using a lottery system like Ticketmaster, but whatever. Jim Jones sounds like a guy that woke up one morning and decided to rap, and neglects to hone his craft to, I don't know, sound like an actual rapper. Yung Berg's verse, while different from the original song, sounds stupid, and Rich Boy comes off as Rapper Of The Year on his also-forgettable verse.

This is what we in the industry (the blogging industry) would call a prime example of "padding your album". This isn't even a Yung Berg song; he's just the guest rapper inserted to provide Nikki Flores (who?) with street cred on her first (only?) single. I thought about at least looking her up to see if she was at least cute, but I soon realized that I stopped caring the moment she started "singing".

THE LAST WORD: I applaud the fact that Yung Berg bucked the trend and released an EP, if only because that means I only wasted twenty minutes of my life instead of the usual hour. My gratitude should not be misinterpreted as a recommendation, however. This disc reminded me of the main reason I hate listening to the radio, and the rhymes show no spark of creativity whatsoever. Sure, I wrote that I liked the beat on "Sexy Lady", but does that mean I'll try to hunt it down? Probably not; I have better uses for my time. I knew what I was getting into when I picked up Almost Famous: The Sexy Lady EP, but I was hoping for a surprise. No such luck. Maybe next time, Bergstrom.


1 comment:

  1. The library?
    Damn, I'll have to look if my library has any hip-hop at all. I can picture it now, all the 65 year olds in there, bobbin' their heads and stuff...