November 1, 2008

Chino XL - I Told You So (November 13, 2001)


I have to say that I was a bit confused when I read Chino XL secured a deal with Warner Bros. How in the hell did some guy with (admittedly) some talent behind the mic (and an incredibly disappointing debut album, Here To Save You All) land a deal at The House That Bugs Bunny Built? It turns out that the article that I read eight or nine years ago, basically, had no clue what the fuck it was talking about: Chino's label, American Recordings (home of The Nonce, Johnny Cash, and, briefly, Skinny Puppy) utilized the distribution arm of Warners: Chino was never actually able to access all of that Daffy Duck and Marvin the Martian money. Eventually, due to low tracking record sales, Chino XL was locked in a water tower, never to escape, but he still found his way to Metro Records, an independent label that I never heard of prior and haven't heard from since.

I Told You So is Chino's sophomore album, which saw its release five years after Here To Save You All, and seven years too late for anybody to really give a fuck. As a result, nobody bought the damn thing. If they had, they would have been in for a treat: not only is the album cover overly dramatic for no fucking reason (perhaps, as a tribute to his former labelmate, he attempted to create a "Ring of Fire", but ended up burning down the warehouse where the photo shoot was originally supposed to take place, so they ended up putting Chino in front of a green screen), the tracklisting is completely jacked up, Ghostface Killah-style. (Although, admittedly, he hasn't had those issues ever since switching to Def Jam.) Entire songs and skits were left out of the liner notes in an effort to force the listener to actually work, which is a terrible way to get anyone to like your album.

I Told You So seems to have garnered a following on Amazon.com, and even though that's hardly a barometer for taste in our chosen genre, could it be possible that those folks aren't entirely off the mark?

Let's find out.

(Note: The tracklisting below reflects how the songs actually appear on the album and not, in fact, how the songs are ordered in the liner notes or on the back cover.)

1. RUDE AWAKENING (FEAT AZIZ)
This is actually a completely useless interlude. Feel free to skip right to track number two.

2. WHAT YOU GOT
This song is waaay overproduced, and the hook is incredibly lame. Lyrically, Chino sounds as if he's holding back in order to garner commercial appeal, which is and will always be a mistake.

3. HISTORY (SKIT)
I actually liked this skit (in which a kid relates Chino's actual childhood), at least right up until Chino himself chimes in with some random fuckery. So much for a skit that could have been good.

4. NUNCA
I liked this one a lot. This is more like the Chino XL from Here To Save You All. Dissing Insane Clown Posse for ruining hip hop is about as easy as blaming Bush for the decline of America, but that doesn't make the statement any less true.

5. (UNLISTED SKIT)
Silly and stupid.

6. (UNLISTED SONG)
On the Interweb, this track is frequently referred to as "Fuckin' Asshole", not unlike some of the comments I receive whenever I diss the shit out of your favorite album. Does that make this my theme song? Naah. While it's alright, it's actually not as confrontational as you would think. Some of the lines are amusing, though.

7. THAT WOULD BE ME
The beat provides a sense of urgency that Chino matches word for word. This shit is actually pretty freaking awesome.

8. LAST LAUGH (FEAT B-REAL)
B-Real from Cypress Hill would probably be the last rapper I would choose to collaborate with, even though he could probably hook me up with the good shit, but he surprised the hell out of me on here. Maybe it's because of Chino's dominance of the microphone, but B-Real puts the bong down long enough to actually spit some shit like a real rapper should. He's still outshined by his host, but this is the most lyrical I've ever heard anybody from Cypress Hill be.

9. LET 'EM LIVE (FEAT KOOL G RAP)
The beat sounds alright, but neither Chino nor Kool G. Rap sound comfortable. However, they feel completely at ease with each other, so they have that going for them, which is nice.

10. BABY MOMMA (SKIT)
...

11. SORRY (FEAT SHAUNTA)
This was a weird choice for a guest spot. Do you think Chino XL called his agent and asked him/her to track down the female rapper that co-starred on both versions of Timbaland and Magoo's "Luv 2 Luv U"? Anyway, she actually sounds pretty good over the beat, as does Chino himself, and although the pairing doesn't feel even remotely natural, it's still pleasant enough.

12. CHINO XL
I usually don't like songs that are named after the artist. Although the hook is pretty weak, this song is the exception to the rule. Chino seems to have perfected the art of molding punchlines into song form, and the beats presented to the listeners thus far blow Here To Save You All out of the fucking frame.

13. CHINOPHONE, PART ONE (SKIT)
Goofy and stupid.

14. YOU DON'T WANT IT
I didn't care for this track. It comes off as Generic Rap Song #4080, and its title only furthers my argument.

15. CHINOPHONE, PART TWO (SKIT)
Okay, I have to admit that this skit was pretty fucking hilarious.

16. I TOLD YOU SO
The chorus is fucking awful, and the beat has been scientifically proven to cause temporarily insane outbursts in young men between the ages of 24 and 36, a condition that has led to many a Jersey beatdown, but Chino sounds good with his verses, which should count for at least a little something.

17. DON'T SAY A WORD
With the beat and the hook, I had to do a double take to make sure that I hadn't accidentally switched over to a Little Brother album. The peaceful-by-comparison instrumental doesn't provide an effective contrast.

18. CHINO FANS (SKIT)
...

19. IT'S MY WORLD
Probably the closest we will ever come to hearing Chino XL rhyme over a DJ Premier beat (at least, on a Chino XL album, anyway). Thankfully, should the opportunity ever rear its clean-shaven head, Chino comes off as more than capable.

20. ASS-IN-AN-INSTANT (FEAT MARY ANNE)
This interlude is pretty damn senseless. A couple of funny lines isn't enough to warrant repeat listenings.

21. CHIANARDO DI CAPRIO
I probably could have easily read the title alone and come to the same conclusion, but no, I had to actually listen to it. And guess what? This track sucks balls.

22. (UNLISTED SKIT)
...

23. HOW IT GOES (FEAT SAAFIR)
Hearing Saafir say "Trick bitch, I'm an astronaut" is pretty funny, and it completely made my day, even though that boast is as random as a motherfucker. (How that is supposed to be considered "random", I will never know.) This collaboration is pretty damn decent.

24. BE HERE
This sounds uncharacteristic of Chino XL. It's a tale of Chino and his sugar mama, played out over a beat that is reminiscent of Cru's "Just Another Case". I appreciate the fact that he tried to branch out, but this song is ultimately a misfire.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Fucked-up tracklisting aside, I Told You So is, surprisingly, a step above Here To Save You All in pure consistency. Chino XL's rhymes still sound about the same, which is just fine, since he's not without talent, but this time around, the beats that back him up are (usually) on the level of their host. This provides for a very entertaining listening, even if most of the bullshit skits fall flat.

BUY OR BURN? I think you should buy this one, provided you can find the fucking thing. Most hip hop heads probably turned away from Chino's general direction after Here To Save You All burned them, but he's deserving of a second look.

BEST TRACKS: "Chino XL"; "Nunca"; "That Would Be Me"; "It's My World"

-Max

RELATED POSTS:
Chino XL - Here To Save You All

8 comments:

  1. Uh Hum...(looks both ways) DL'in right now based on your review...gonna' pop this in the ipod over some NBA 2K9. Great stuff as always, ILOVETHISSITE!!!

    Eric

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  2. Mr. AquariusNovember 02, 2008

    Yay, good to have you back. So this really does blow HTSYA out of the water? Really might want to check it then. I've always liked his verse in the Anthem.

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  3. Well, Max, "I told you so" is in my opinion the album that proves Chinos' ability to rhyme about everything and with every rapper.

    There is nothing wrong with Chino when he spits nonsense. He's doing it very good and with style. I think he puts in more creativity than bullshit intension.

    I bought this album, because I believe he deserves a little more respect than others.

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  4. I would never call you a "Fuckin' Asshole" since that's too easy but that doesn't stop you from being a bitch ass cunt. Get the fuck out of here with your bullshit and go lick the toejam off your from your mom while your pops bust a nut inside your eye to show you where he comes from and Joe The Plumber is screwing you with his plunger.

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  5. good writing. I actually want to hear this shit now.

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  6. How is 'bitch ass cunt' any better than 'fuckin' asshole'? I'm honestly curious.
    Thanks for the review. This might just be me, but when you review something positively, it has weight, and if I didn't like it on first listen, I like it more after reading you review. Weird.

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  7. Shit man, this review is fucked up by your facking hate to chino. Learn how to think objetivily.

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  8. Hilarious. Clearly someone doesn't (a) get satire, or (b) read to the end of articles.

    Thanks for reading!

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