November 24, 2011

Necro - I Need Drugs (November 7, 2000)


For Thanksgiving, I felt that a proper way to celebrate the turkey that I plan on tearing into later today was to meet up with an artist who specializes in some of the sickest depictions of homicide our genre has yet offered.  For the rest of you in other countries, for which today is just another Thursday, you're very welcome.

Ron Braunstein, who rhymes, produces, and directs under the pseudonym Necro, hails from the Brooklyn area.  He specializes mostly in an extreme measure of horrorcore, something he calls "death rap", which combines the sensibilities of death metal with the conventions of our chosen genre.  His musical career even began on the heavier metal side of the fence.  And yet, the guy is known for being one of the more creative and lyrical underground rappers (and producers) from the East Coast, ranking somewhere near his brother, Ill Bill, who was the recipient of his own write-up earlier this month.  

(Side note: is there any particular reason why most white rappers feel the need to skew toward horrorcore?  I wrote about the Insane Clown Posse and Cage within days of each other, and they stroll down the same pathways, although Cage is a bit more gruesome (or tiresome, depending on how your feel about Chris Palko).  Even Marshall Mathers trafficked in shock value (under his Slim Shady alias) before collecting his many millions and then shutting himself off from every other white rapper in existence before he eventually signed Yelawolf.  If there something in the water?  If these guys are trying to differentiate themselves from every other rap act on the planet, how in the fuck are they all rhyming about being serial killers and glorifying drug abuse?  That just makes it harder to tell all of the white rappers apart.  Unless you're Brian Austin Green.)

After unleashing a few twelve-inch singles and EPs, Necro formed his own label, Psycho+Logical Records, and put together his debut full-length, I Need Drugs.  It quickly earned a cult following who couldn't get enough of Ron's graphic depictions of murder, rape, and glorified drug use, coupled with dope beats and rhymes heavily influenced by some of our genre's old school greats.  I Need Drugs features his brother Billiam on a couple of tracks, and the beats mix together samples swiped from out of left field (I believe The Monkees factor in at one point), and all of these ingredients mix together for one...interesting listening experience.

For those of you turned off by the album cover, I am truly sorry.

1.  THE MOST SADISTIC (FEAT. ILL BILL)
No rap album intro needed: Necro drops us right into an actual song, and I have to say, this was actually pretty good.  The brothers Braunstein connect to drop a single verse each, expertly setting up the tone of I Need Drugs while effectively scaring away naive listeners who weren't really sure of what they were getting into.  Necro's instrumental is simple but dope, and the rhymes are predictably fucked-up (even from Billiam, who follows his brother's lead and competes for the title promised in the song's name).  A nice way to start things off.

2.  HOE BLOW
Necro throws his hat into the ring, bringing us his idea of what the filthiest rap song in the world should sound like, and his ideas are, of course, worlds away from what your own dirty mind could conjure up.  Which is probably a good thing, because you probably want to have sex again.  Our host's two triple-X-rated verses are so borderline ridiculous that they border on parody, so when Necro shoots for the moon and delivers the hook, a goof on Boogie Down Productions's "Criminal Minded", you'll be left so flustered at Necro's gall that you'll start laughing your ass off, as that will be the only acceptable reaction.  At least, it was for me.  The ending is filled with shout-outs to Necro's peers and giving props to his record label, which was unexpected on a track entitled "Hoe Blow".

3.  I NEED DRUGS
Necro's infamous parody of LL Cool J's "I Need Love" is still potent today, if a bit silly, although our host's attention to detail (including his take on the Cool James flow) is pretty fucking brilliant.  You get desensitized to all of the multiple drug references pretty quickly, so to shake up your world, you should check out the video on YouTube, which features Necro's Uncle Howie and some others shooting heroin for real.  This was definitely the track your grandmother will gravitate to when she finally gets the chance to hear the album in full.

4.  YOUR FUCKIN' HEAD SPLIT
I liked the beat alright, but the main reason this track works is because of Necro's Kool G. Rap-esque flow, which starts off sounding like a dead-on impression but eventually eases into its own animal.  The titular phrase is actually a part of the chorus, but it still seems like it exists mainly to terrify your parents, as this shit, while sadistic, isn't really fucked-up enough.  A strange critique, I know.

5.  YOU'RE DEAD (FEAT. ILL BILL)
The second of two family reunions of the evening takes place over a weak-as-shit instrumental that houses a horrible hook.  All of this sounds like a recipe for disaster, and you'd be correct, but Necro's verse is at least okay enough to keep his fanbase happy.  Billiam attempts horrorcore once again, but proves beyond the shadow of a doubt that his heart belongs with conspiracy theories and general shit-talking.

6.  GET ON YOUR KNEES
Necro isn't all about extreme horrorcore and the glorification of drug use, of course: he's also heavily into pornography.  "Get On Your Knees" explores his obsession with sex, and it goes in exactly the direction you would expect given the song title, even with the Dionne Warwick vocal sample that I'm sure she's fucking thrilled with, but hey, at least he's able to articulate his passions.  That's more than you can say about most rappers: regardless if you approve of the subject matter, Necro is actually a pretty good writer.  Beat-wise, this instrumental did nothing for me.  But you can't win them all.

7.  RUGGED SHIT
Conversely, the beat on here is fucking nice.  It's not good enough for me to allow it to "stomp [my] skull", as our host demands toward the end, but then again, what is?  "Rugged Shit" contains just that, as Necro's bars skew more toward hardcore trash talking than any other track on I Need Drugs thus far, and the guy actually sounds pretty convincing doing so.  This song lacks the humor found on the rest of the tracks, but it is called "Rugged Shit", after all: there may not have been any room for comedy on here.  Really good, though.

8.  I'M SICK OF YOU
Sounds like this should be a dis track aimed at someone, specifically a certain Marshall Mathers, as Necro keeps indicating that he's sick of "shady motherfuckers" and "shady sluts", but in reality, he's actually just mad at people that take up all the space underneath the trees at the park that's near his house.  (Necro has frequently said that he has no actual beef with Eminem, so there you go.)  Three verses of simple, elementary attacks (all of which revolve around the illness he's been exposed to by merely being around you) all go by the wayside when you realize that, wait a minute, did our host just say at the very beginning that he was sick of "bitch ass n----s"?  Why yes, yes he did.  Necro firmly believes that if the person saying the word isn't a racist, then it shouldn't matter if he uses it or not, but I can't help but notice that he doesn't really use the word all that often in the songs on I Need Drugs even with that rationalization.  Hmm...

9.  COCKROACHES
Most rappers wouldn't ever think to base an entire song around motherfucking cockroaches, but most rappers aren't Necro.  This was lifted from an earlier EP, but it still fits the overall sound of I Need Drugs seamlessly, even with the ridiculous use of a sound bite from Scarface used as the hook (no points for guessing what the sample says!).  If any of you were offended before at Necro's cavalier use of the word "n---a", though, you'll love it when he compares cockroaches to people using the same term.  And how has the dude never gotten his ass kicked?

10.  FUCK YOU TO THE TRACK
I can't believe I wasn't feeling a song entitled "Fuck You To The Track".  What the hell is wrong with me?  Oh yeah, I'm not a fan of weak tracks.  Shock value-addled song titles don't result in automatic wins, dude.

11.  BURN THE GROOVE TO DEATH
Meh.

12.  UNDERGROUND
A little bit too long for my tastes, but "Underground" was pretty good regardless, thanks to Necro's verses, which are indicative of his version of underground hip hop, which is purely lyrical, but with a morbid twist, as was to be expected.  The instrumental is too low-key for what is essentially the centerpiece of I Need Drugs, but it was still enjoyable.

13.  S.T.D.
This was really a glorified interlude, with some goofy-as-fuck lyrics that quickly turn ultraviolent on a dime.  I would skip right past this shit, personally.

14.  WKCR 89.9 FREESTYLE 4/20/2000 (FEAT. MR. HYDE)
I Need Drugs ends with three separate freestyle sessions to close out the evening.  This first offering, which features our host and his boy Mr. Hyde rocking over the instrumental for "The Most Sadistic", runs for over eight minutes, but to be fair, most of the back end of the track is dedicated to how disappointed Necro is in his Uncle Howie for failing to appear at a Jewish family function.  He has an easygoing chemistry with both Mr. Hyde and radio deejay Bobbito Garcia, which proves to the listener that pretty much everything that came before on I Need Drugs is the product of a guy who just has a twisted sense of humor.

15.  WNYU 89.1 MERRY X-MAS FREESTYLE 12/23/99
This wasn't bad, probably because Necro sticks with the Christmas theme as only he can.  Sure, a lot of it seems like he's trying to actively piss off those who are excited about the holiday (using the same music as he did on "I'm Sick Of You" probably wasn't an accident), but it all seems like it was in good fun.  Moving on...

16.  WNYU 89.1 FREESTYLE 5/10/2000 (FEAT. MR. HYDE)
The final freestyle of the night takes place on the same radio station as the Christmas song from before, with Necro reusing his "Your Fucking Head Split" beat at first (hey, at least he recycles).  The instrumental switches up a couple of times before everything ends, and Necro expresses to the audience the importance of supporting underground acts (had I Need Drugs been released today, I have no doubt that his pleas would be punctuated with threats to disembowel anybody who bootlegged his shit).  Not particularly memorable (that honor would have to go to the Yuletide carol that featured previously on the album), but it was a nice enough way to end things.

FINAL THOUGHTS:  Necro's I Need Drugs is definitely not for a general audience: in fact, it's arguable that you need to be under the influence of several illicit substances in order to enjoy it fully, and maybe it would add to the overall effect if you murdered a prostitute while listening to it.  Necro's skills behind the boards vary on his debut: when he connects, he hits fucking hard, but when he blinks, all of the lyrics in the world can't save him.  Speaking of those lyrics, he sticks with shock value for the majority of the run time, but if you look past the tongue-in-cheek black humor, what you'll hear is a young battle rapper in search of an audience, and one that sounds hungry as fuck at that.  I Need Drugs isn't the classic other bloggers want you to believe, since in order for something to be labeled as such it has to be consistently great, but there are some fantastic moments on here that deserve to be heard, regardless of your preferences either for or against violent and sadistic rap music.  A lot of I Need Drugs is also pretty funny, too.  He had better days ahead of him at this point, but I Need Drugs acts as a Cliffs Notes for Necro's career: it tells you everything you need to know for the exam.

BUY OR BURN?  Because a lot of these tracks don't hold up very well, I can only recommend a burn.  The songs listed below are the fucking shit, though, and you should grab those as soon as possible.  By the way, I've focused a lot on horrorcore-esque artists this month: how do you two feel about that?  Do you want to see more of that sub-genre, or are you wishing that I would just get back to my normal schtick already?  Let me know.

BEST TRACKS:  "Rugged Shit"; "Your Fucking Head Split"; "The Most Sadistic"

-Max

14 comments:

  1. excluding the title track from this album i never liked necro's rapping and still dont but i do like his beats
    just not that into the whole horrorcore deathrap thing i guess..

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  2. If you want to continue, review "Flatlinerz - USA"...

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  3. "Do you want to see more of that sub-genre, or are you wishing that I would just get back to my normal schtick already?"

    If it were me running your blog, I'd try to keep it less consistent, reviewing different artsists from as many different sub-genres as possible. That being said, there's so much that can be stated about some of these Horrorcore guys that you might want to stay on the topic for a bit longer, because I'm very interested in those oppinions. Maybe you could make November dedicated to Horrorcore on an anual basis, but maybe the other guy will disagree with my suggestion.

    That's just my two cents.

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  4. back to the regular program please, that trip thru weirdo rap was cool, but we need some of those good old reviews

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  5. I'd be interested in hearing your take on Danny Brown's new shit (Black and Brown/XXX), as well as Murs's new album (Love and Rockets). And the technically solid, but lacking-in-substance newbie that is Childish Gambino. Rip him a new one.

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  6. Aesop Rock?
    Please

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  7. I strongly dislike Cage's earlier work. Probably because he took his dumb bullshit nonsense so seriously; a problem not ever shared by Necro. As you mentioned several times in your review, the man has a major sense of humor. I can appreciate his work even though I would never write about what he does, or listen extensively to his stuff.

    Ill Bill and Necro. Could you imagine the dinner time conversations at their house? Fascinating family, I'm sure.

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  8. ASAP Rocky

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  9. i dig the horrorcore shit. you should review the randy 'macho man' savage album though. not gonna lie its pretty good.

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  10. Well this was.. unexpected.

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  11. I didn't realize there was an actual clamoring for Macho Man reviews. But been there, done that.

    http://hiphopisntdead.blogspot.com/2011/04/macho-man-randy-savage-be-man-october-7.html

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  12. damnit im always a day late and a dollar short. i gotta stop smoking so much.

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  13. I agree with M.A.T. to a degree. Horrorcore can be cool at times. But I do think the diversified reviews is a good thing. My personal taste of late output is the "indie/underground" Hiphop. I think itt'd be dope to see you get into rhymesayers catalogue a little more. As these artists tend to speak things of merit in their rhymes.

    There has actually been some pretty straight output as of late with Honkey Kong, Phonte's solo album, and Common's upcoming album. It'd also be dope to see a little more current things too.


    Just opinions. Good review. Keep it up.

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  14. I really don't like horrorcore rap. More De La Soul! ;)

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