May 8, 2009

Big Punisher (a/k/a Big Pun) - Yeeeah Baby (April 4, 2000)


With the release of his debut album, Capital Punishment, Christopher Rios, known as Big Punisher in the hip hop realm, became the first rapper of Latino descent to move over one million units. While this was an impressive feat (one which has since been eclipsed by the sales of other artists like Pitbull and, strangely, Fat Joe, who was essentially Pun's mentor and fellow Terror Squad crew member), there is (in my mind) an asterisk next to the album's name in the hip hop hall of fame. Why? Because the music was actually (mostly) good. Pun's debut disc was released during the late part of the 1990s, which meant that he was coerced into including radio-friendly piffle such as "I'm Not A Player", "Still Not A Player", and "Why Is It That You Cannot Grasp The Fact That I Am Not Of The Player Persuasion? (Bad Boy Remix) (featuring Loon)", but, on the sly, he also forced listeners to hear visceral street tales created with the assistance of some of New York's finest, including The Beatnuts, a couple of guys from the Wu-Tang Clan, Prodigy (from Mobb Deep), various Terror Squad crew members, and Busta Rhymes.

However, Pun's follow-up, Yeeeah Baby, was recorded under a different regime, one which dictated that the radio was God and radio airplay meant your salvation. Pun explained in interviews that he was deliberately aiming for a wider audience, and although his lyrical flow (which was always inconceivably good) didn't really change, his taste in musical backdrops took a turn for the damn near clinically insane (and I mean that in a bad way). Like Capital Punishment, he litters Yeeeah Baby with guests, but unlike its predecessor, the cameos actually detract from the overall experience, for the most part.

Big Pun wouldn't live to see the release of Yeeeah Baby, as he passed away from a fatal heart attack two months before it hit store shelves. Thus rendering Yeeeah Baby as an inadvertently posthumous tribute to the man's legacy. It also managed to move over a million units, but unlike the first album, I don't know anybody that actually admits to owning a copy.

Here's why.

1. THE CREATION (INTRO) (FEAT LORD SEAR)
This is just stupid. I can't believe I wasted a minute and a half of my life with this shit.

2. WATCH THOSE
And already Yeeeah Baby sounds nothing like Capital Punishment. Pun doesn't sound like he's refined his flow any, but to be fair, he already sounded pretty good. The instrumental, from Knobody, is not a good fit for the Punisher, which is weird, since he actually produced Pun's hit "Still Not A Player". Huh.

3. OFF WITH HIS HEAD (FEAT PROSPECT)
I don't know what Just Blaze was going for with the beat (other than cashing a fucking check), but in no way does it actually serve to create any sort of mood conducive to this type of hip hop. Although even if the beat was good, I still couldn't recall anything memorable about anybody's lyrics on here.

4. IT'S SO HARD (FEAT DONELL JONES)
I hated this song when it was first released, and not just because Pun's ad-libs during the first break for the chorus are depressing as fuck (he says “I just lost a hundred pounds, I'm trying to live!”): I thought the song itself sucked. Today, I found Pun's lyrics kind of funny, but the beat has “radio-friendly” written all over its DNA, and I still can't care for it.

5. WE DON'T CARE (FEAT CUBAN LINK)
That title just opens itself up for all sorts of criticism. All justified.

6. NEW YORK GIANTS (FEAT M.O.P.)
Although the pairing isn't the most obvious in the hip hop realm, Pun and M.O.P. Mash out nicely over this collaborative Minnesota and Mahogany beat. Still doesn't make up for M.O.P.'s collaboration with L.F.O., though.

7. MY DICK (FEAT TONY SUNSHINE)
Meh.

8. LEATHER FACE
Other than the silly hook, this legitimate contender for the horrorcore genre actually comes the closest, out of everything I've heard so far, to match the craziness from Capital Punishment. This isn't bad.

9. AIR PUN (SKIT)


10. 100% (FEAT TONY SUNSHINE)
This actually sounds pretty decent. Sure, the beat sounds more like the soundtrack to a Renaissance Fair than it does for walking around in Puerto Rico (or at least it treads a fine line), but Pun sounds right at home, and Tony Sunshine's singing only adds to the proceedings.

11. WRONG ONES (FEAT SUNKISS)
The hook is hilariously awful, and SunKiss sounds terrible over this faster-paced beat. Only Pun manages to sound comfortable, but subject matter-wise, this song isn't saying anything. The hip hop equivalent of empty calories.

12. LAUGHING AT YOU (FEAT TONY SUNSHINE)
Big Pun's version of The Notorious B.I.G.'s “Juicy” is corny as fuck, thanks to a ridiculous chorus that grates on the nerves (and then, for no reason, starts to mimic the Simple Minds hit “Don't You Forget About Me”). Regardless of what Pun actually says on the track, it's so bad that I can only hope that you don't have to experience it in your lifetime.

13. N---A SHIT
Really? We're still giving rap songs titles like this?

14. MS. MARTIN (FEAT REMY MARTIN)
The first (mostly) solo showcase for current prison inmate Remy Martin, also known as Remy Ma. For what it's worth, she at least grabs your attention with the line “[if] a pregnant bitch talk shit, I'ma destroy her fetus”. (And yet Biggie's line about robbing pregnant women on “Gimme The Loot” was censored?) Anyway, Remy actually isn't bad, but Pun's hook, aping 702's “Where My Girls At?”, is piss-poor.

15. MY TURN
I can't imagine that Pun actually liked any of these beats, especially after the street tales blessed by the likes of the Rza, Juju from The Beatnuts, Domingo, and Showbiz from Capital Punishment. (True, producers Knobody and Younglord provides tracks for both albums, but that's immaterial right now.) Pun's opening salvo, “Fuck you and yours!” is pretty good, though: it deserved a better backdrop.

16. YOU WAS WRONG (FEAT FAT JOE, REMY MARTIN, & DRAG-ON)
Who the fuck invited Drag-On's Cam'Ron-sounding ass to what is essentially a Terror Squad posse cut? Whoever it was, they were wrong. The DJ Shok beat is awful, but Pun, Fat Joe, and Remy Ma all sound like they actually belong in a group together. Sadly, though, this is a terrible way to end what would end up being Pun's final recorded album in his lifetime.

FINAL THOUGHTS: While Capital Punishment sounded like a mixtape featuring beats and rhymes from your favorite New York artists, Yeeeah Baby comes off as its richer, more arrogant cousin, with its so-polished-you-can-see-yourself-in-them beats, which Pun doesn't do too well over. I'm puzzled as to what Pun was thinking when he recorded this shit: lyrically, it is decent (at least when Pun is behind the mic), but the music mostly sucks horse cock. It's sad that this album serves as the last gift Big Punisher gave to humanity: we would all do better to pretend that the guy only put out the one album.

BUY OR BURN? I suppose you can burn this if you must, but there really isn't anything on here that will alter the course of events in your life. A lot of this disc is flat out boring. Sigh.

BEST TRACKS: “Leather Face”; “New York Giants”

-Max

RELATED POSTS:
Big Punisher - Capital Punishment

4 comments:

  1. bad review. true that this album is not as good as capital punishment but its still a mad dope album. off wit his head is one of the greatest track in music history and leatherface and ny giants are good as fuck. but its so hard and 100 % are also very good. this album lyrically shits on a lot of niggaz but music wise its aight not too many great beats anyway this album is a good buy for any pun fan.

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  2. Oh yeah, I fucking loved Leatherface... Which sadly is the only memorable song on here.

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  3. off with his head is awesome beat, open your ears, Max

    kormega

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  4. Fuck this review. this nigga is dumb.


    Pun is one of those rappers that you listen to and love. If you can't recognize what he did, then you don't deserve to write a review on this music. Lyrically, he was on point.

    Especially what you said about It's so Hard and Laughing at you. Wtf? This has always been puns style, as a way to pay homage to songs that were treasured in different peoples minds. If you think I'm wrong, listen to the first joint he recorded for his album, I'm not a player, which had a video featuring The OJs, who the beat was sampled from. He had the original musicians in the video. That's plain dope.


    Bad review, Yeah baby was an excellent sophomore album, and would have lead to even greater music by big pun. Look at his final work, you have a similar flavour with the livin la vida loca remix, and Mamma seemed like the only real big pun song on there(not regarding the previously done tracks, the new work)



    YB deserves 7/10 and a deff cop.

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