April 1, 2011
Macho Man Randy Savage - Be A Man (October 7, 2003)
Randall Poffo, better known as professional wrestler Randy "Macho Man" Savage, had performed for over ninety-seven years in the squared circle before he realized his dream of releasing a hardcore rap album in 2003. Be A Man was unleashed upon our unsuspecting chosen genre by Big3 Records, an independent outfit formed to release an album entitled Be A Man to record stores the world over. Or at least in select markets around the United States, as Big3's distribution arm didn't stretch out very far.
Savage had been bitten by the musical bug before, thanks to a compilation entitled Wrestlemania, The Album, which was produced by American Idol's Simon Cowell. That's actually not a joke. Savage apparently enjoyed his time in the booth so much that an entire Cowell-less record followed suit.
Macho Man had decided that rap music would be the best outlet for him to express himself to his fans, most of whom were gleams in their grandfather's eyes when he first began wrestling in the World Wrestling Federation. Although it is questionable whether or not the man had ever actually listened to a rap song, even in passing, prior to the recording sessions of Be A Man, his supporting cast, production The Rascalz (who wrote and produced every track), were able to guide him in the right direction, and they also helped him cross the street once or twice.
When in doubt, there's always the “faux documentary-style” rap album intro route to follow whenever you're in need of a way to kick off your project. The participants providing the random line readings that really have nothing at all to do with each other sound fucking hilarious with their non-commitment, especially the girl who is pretending that Randy Savage is sexy. It was very hard to listen to this shit with a straight face.
2. I'M BACK
Unsurprisingly, Macho Man's musical backing of choice is a rap beat with a rock foundation, as the crushing guitars dominate the melody on the first real song from Be A Man, making our host sound like the crotchety, possibly racist grandfather of Limp Bizkit. Savage's bars are simple and effective, in that you can easily understand what he's talking about when he's “rhyming” to the “beat”: metaphors do not exist in this dojo. Personally, I haven't watched professional wrestling in at least fifteen years, so I was unaware that Randy Savage had ever left that particular “sport”, but I'm assuming he had to have been gone for a while in order for that song title to make any fucking sense: Randolph seems to be the type of guy who always means what he says in a very literal way.
3. R U READY
With that generic song title, Randy Savage doesn't come across as the kind of guy who is paying his respects to our chosen genre: he sounds like a condescending asshole who is appropriating hip hop culture for his own personal gain, pandering to his audience by using phrases that he thinks will help him connect with them. Well, at least he gives his all to the performance, which hits you like a clothesline and other random wrestling references that won't make any sense in this context, as The Rascalz present a rocking beat (literally) which eschews the rap audience in favor of Linkin Park's, which does our host no favors. If he wanted to actually record a rap album, then he should have gone the whole nine yards, getting some fake DJ Premier-esque boom-bap to spit some hot fire over. Alas.
4. HIT THE FLOOR (FEAT. DJ KOOL)
The only guest star on Be A Man even tangentially related to hip hop makes a cameo on “Hit The Floor”: DJ Kool, best known for his “Let Me Clear My Throat”, contributes to a playful back-and-forth with Macho Man that sounds more like a chore than cleaning out your garage on a blazing hot Saturday afternoon while suffering from a major hangover and while avoiding calls from that semi-attractive but clingy chick you picked up at the club last night who somehow got a hold of your phone number and now wants to know when she'll see you again, and you're stuck trying to figure out a way to let her down gently because, while the sex itself was okay, she did this weird thing with her tongue and her teeth on your dick that was too painful to have to suffer through again. Wait, hold on, I kind of got off topic here.
5. LET'S GET IT ON
Savage attempts to provide listeners with a rallying cry for...something important, I'm sure (maybe he just wants more people to purchase Slim Jims?), floundering about miserably thanks to the hilariously apathetic chorus, which urges listeners to “kick some butt” before they “get it on”, thereby illuminating the disconnect between hip hop and whatever Randy Savage believes rap music to be. I find it hard to believe that this shit could be used to urge anyone to do anything, up to and including basic bodily functions such as breathing and blinking involuntarily, but I've been wrong before.
6. REMEMBER ME
Macho Man steals his second Eminem song title of Be A Man, but the song trips at the starting gate and never fully recovers, thanks to its faulty premise: anyone who actually purchased Be A Man clearly knows who Randy Savage is, so there would be no need for you to “remember” him if you've never forgotten him in the first place. The female vocalist on the hook sounds like she should have been paid in Bugles and warm beer, as her contribution sounds that vacant, while Savage runs down some highlights of his wrestling career that make him sound like more of an actor than some of these so-called gangsta rappers in the industry today. A shame.
7. TEAR IT UP
I'm not sure why Macho Man is thrilled to hear the “hip hop mixed with rock and roll”-type instrumental at the beginning of “Tear It Up”: all of Be A Man has sounded this way thus far. It's also never fully explained just what exactly the listener is supposed to tear up, and that lack of helpful insight translates into an ineffective track. Honestly, Randy, a little but of guidance goes a long way. Just point me in the right direction, and I'll tear up whatever you need torn. Help me help you, man.
8. MACHO THANG
Production team The Rascalz Suddenly switch gears, giving Macho Man their closest approximation of a Neptunes-type club banger, and our host sounds so earnest that the track sounds even more hilarious than it already did. Savage is about sixty years old now, which means he was about fifty-two or fifty-three when Be A Man was recorded: by all accounts, Randy Savage was the creepy old guy at the club hitting on as many chicks as possible, because the lay of probability states that, eventually, someone will go home with him. If you find yourself at a club that bangs this type of shit, you should probably run outside as quickly as possible, as it will not be the place for you, and besides, the drink specials will probably be watered down anyway.
9. BE A MAN
There is little more ridiculous in our chosen genre than a dis record aimed at someone who isn't a rapper and, as such, won't actually respond: it's kind of like Eminem talking trash about Moby. Randy Savage uses The Rascalz's Rick Rock-inflected instrumental to fuck Hulk Hogan's shit up, but although he does manage to get in one solid point (Hogan's movie career has stalled, whereas Savage, whose own star has fallen as of late, was at least in Sam Raimi's Spider Man reboot), this attempt at kickstarting a beef on wax sounds so desperate that it would probably marry you in a heartbeat if you showed even the least bit of interest. Fuck it, though, at least there aren't any heavy guitars on the beat: that was getting pretty annoying.
10. GET BACK
Of all the rap songs in the world entitled “Get Back”, this was certainly one of them. (It could be argued that the track's name was also borrowed from an Eminem song, specifically D-12's “Get Back”, but all that proves is that Marshall Mathers likes to use really generic song titles.) The Rascalz go for a more experimental sound with their beat, but everyone involved, especially the shitty uncredited guest rapper (also from The Rascalz, if I'm not mistaken), sound awkward, refusing to adapt their respective deliveries to their new surroundings. Lyrically, Macho Man has bars (they're not especially good, but he has them, so that sentence is accurate), but he is easily drowned out by the loud instrumental that serves no other purpose than to drown him out, so at least one goal was accomplished on here.
11. FEEL THE MADNESS
Macho Man reportedly explained that he chose to record a rap album instead of straight-up rock, a musical genre he obviously has more respect for, because he can't sing, but figured that talking to a beat would be much easier. Which tells you absolutely everything you need to know about Be A Man. This madness isn't exactly contagious: you're prone to skip the track before you even walk out of the fucking store with your copy of Be A Man.
12. WHAT'S THAT ALL ABOUT
Randy Savage proclaims his love to an anonymous female on this song for the ladies, a coolly calculated move intended to showcase our host's sensitive side. He's set on providing for his woman “financially...mentally, physically, and romantically”, so there's that. The Rascalz's low-key instrumental actually sounds like something another rapper would use, and the uncredited singer on the hook sounds like a fake Chamillionaire, so “What's That All About” slides seamlessly into our chosen genre after the multiple false starts on Be A Man. I'm not sure how someone can sound so insincere when they're wearing their heart on their sleeve, but here you go.
13. GONNA BE TROUBLE
Because the word “shit” is heavily (self-) censored on this song, I'm convinced that Macho Man was fully intent on not offending anybody who might actually listen to Be A Man (although that doesn't explain why he thought it was okay to use the word “retarded” on “R U Ready”: if you're going out of your way to be politically correct, go all the fucking way). I'm not one for censorship, but if the album is being recorded for children to listen to in the first place, why even bother leaving the curses in your written rhymes, if you're just going to remove them later? The motherfucking Dino 5 didn't have to censor themselves: they knew their fucking audience. Anyway, this song was awesome.
14. PERFECT FRIEND
After fulfilling all of the other rap album tropes (dis track, introductory skit, violent songs, a track for the ladies), Randy Savage ends Be A Man with an ode to a fallen comrade, Curt Hennig (also known as the professional wrestler Mr. Perfect, hence the title). I don't wish to make fun of the dead, so I'll talk some shit about Savage instead: no matter how hard he tries, he can't sound honest behind the mic, as he comes across as a used car salesman trying to work the passing of his friend into his pitch...at least until the spoken-word portion, where a minute amount of pathos envelops his words. I don't understand his comment from the beginning, the one about holding down his friend “buddy-system style”, but man, am I sad that Be A Man is over.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Randy “Macho Man” Savage's magnum opus Be A Man cements the man's legacy as a rapper who also happened to be a professional wrestler for the majority of his adult life long before he decided to pick up the mic. Within its thirteen tracks (and a rap album intro that helpfully transports the audience from real life into a new audio dimension) lies the Macho Man's life purpose spilled onto wax: here is a man who is conflicted, a sensitive soul who loves to beat the shit out of people, with the heart and mind of a poet and the blisters of a man who likes to use folding chairs for offensive purposes. Be A Man utilizes its rock-tinged production, provided exclusively by The Rascalz, to translate Macho Man's animal urges to the mainstream, and successfully at that: this album may have started its life as a vanity project with no clear objective, but Be A Man transcends its humble beginnings and morphs into a fine hardcore rap album, one which, hopefully, will finally find its audience.
BUY OR BURN? You should probably pick this one up immediately, but be forewarned: you will want to bring a lot of cash to the table, as Be A Man is not just a collector's item, it's also a status symbol.
BEST TRACKS: “Be A Man”; “R U Ready”; “Gonna Be Trouble”