(For today's Reader Review, Taylor relayed his thoughts on a rap album from actor-slash-comedian Jamie Kennedy, one which was conceived after the relative success of his movie Malibu's Most Wanted, a comedy that exists, although I don't know of anyone personally who has ever seen it. Originally submitted as a possible April Fools post (note to the readers: I don't accept Reader Reviews for that particular day), Taylor was kind enough to do a page one rewrite, the results of which are below. As always, leave comments, death threats, and what have you.)
Jamie Kennedy is an actor/comedian best known for his role in the Scream series of movies, for his habit of dressing up to trick people, as shown in The Jamie Kennedy Experiment, and being active within juvenile pop-culture humor alongside Seth Green. Stuart Stone is a Canadian actor best known for voicing characters in several of Nelvana's animated series, such as Care Bears, Babar, and The Magic School Bus. He is also known for his role in Donnie Darko, as well as guest appearances on the TV shows NCIS, Boston Public and Sanctuary.
What do these two have in common? Well, they rap.
These two somehow found each other, in either a Hollywood party or somewhere deep down in Kansas for all I know, and decided to form a rap group together, which managed to release the album I'm writing about right this very second.
Blowin' Up was never meant to be taken seriously, as made evident by the duo's crazy poses, large-ass speakers, and exaggerated font rendered in gold. Instead, this was supposed to showcase two guys just goofing off, with some of their more exaggerated concepts being supported by MTV via the duo's “reality show” of the same name. (Its premise was that Jamie and Stu were two guys trying to get into the rap game, and the show followed their misadventures as they attempted to secure cameos from established artists for their debut album: their guest list included such prominent names as Mike Jones, Three 6 Mafia, and, surprisingly, Ice-T.) However, as expected, Jamie and Stu secretly longed to be taken seriously, and I'm certain that they hoped that at least one of them would be able to continue down this career path after this album hit store shelves.
Wikipedia claims that Blowin' Up was, in fact, successful, but I only first heard about this album after I came across a track on YouTube, and it's only now that I'm listening to it just because the idea of these guys rapping is hilarious to me. You can probably tell how this review is going to go down.
1. CIRCLE CIRCLE DOT DOT
An awkward attempt at a club banger, based off of a song children sing in the playground, starts the album off poorly. Jamie and Stu try to appeal to the audience by rapping about the club lifestyle, but through a terrible electro beat with no personality and flair. Stu outraps his partner by knowing which words to use, keeping up the general pace, and by merely sounding technically proficient with his rhymes. This was supposedly an Internet phenomenon and a number on-selling ringtone, but I was never aware of this until today, and I've never heard this on anyone's cell phone, so for all I know that may have been a misconception created by aliens in order to confuse us all.
2. MESSAGE FROM SAGET
Stuart and Jamie get a supposedly funny, but mildly boring, phone call from none other than Bob Saget, which sets up the following song.
3. ROLLIN' WITH SAGET (FEAT. BOB SAGET)
Known as “the unofficial Bob Saget theme song”, as the titular figure has since adopted it as his own, this song is a banger and by far the gem of Blowin' Up: in fact, this is the very song I came across on YouTube. The beat is simple, but it's very memorable, and it works well for our duo's tales of their nights with Bob Saget, which have him conflicting his clean-cut Full House image by punching a bouncer, getting into fights with both DMX and 50 Cent, smoking blunts, having sex, and pissing in public. (One could also achieve this by merely watching any Bob Saget stand-up set, or by witnessing his cameos on Entourage or in Half Baked.) Both Jamie and Stu manage to seem competent, and their back-and-forth is instantly infectious. This song is the reflection of two guys just having fun, rapping about anything they can, and while the joke may get somewhat tired, the entertainment value of this song never dies. This will be the song the two will be remembered for.
Both of our hosts would like for you to think that they were teenagers in 1984, but the truth is that Stone was born in 1981 and Kennedy in 1970, so they were about three and fourteen years of age, respectively. It doesn't matter to them, though, as they rap about the year as if they absorbed it, mentioning various things like Bubbleberry Blast and Cabbage Patch Kids. I can admire the desire to evoke the old school of cardboard boxes, stickers and flashy fashion, but their dropping of pop culture references as though they were reading from a list on Wikipedia makes this feel hollow, especially when they mention “I Need Love”, which came out in 1987, and the song “Tootsee Roll”, which came out in 1994.
5. RUSH THE CLUB (FEAT. KARDINAL OFFISHAL)
This is honestly not that bad: it appears they made an attempt at a club song with a simplistic but energetic, vibrant beat that reflects the club atmosphere perfectly, and all three present a flow that meshes with the beat perfectly, seeming almost harmonious as they talk about the club lifestyle, mixing gin with juice, and, of course, Kanye West and his gold diggers. Out of the three rappers involved, Stuart Stone ends up being the best of the bunch. Jamie Kennedy seems unconvincing, unsure of whether or not he should be easygoing or a parody of a rapper, and guest star Kardinal Offishal fucks things up with a terrible chorus that destroys the song's momentum (he does spit a decent verse, though). Despite the odds against it, “Rush The Club” manages to succeed.
6. CROOKED STICK
Mentioning Los Angeles radio station KIIS 102.7 is usually a sign that a song will suck, and this does suck, with Jamie and Stu stumbling upon what could be considered an acceptable-but-terrible pop-rap beat. The duo don't curse or mention violent stuff (I think they're parodying the supposedly-explicit content that can be found in “clean” songs), but I'd rather listen to “Eazy-Er Said Than Dunn” than this.
A simplistic rap beat that lacks individuality or bite (but does have energy) powers a generic love rap in which the duo try to appeal to ladies with their goofy personalities, lame pick-up lines, and honest sensibilities. On a related note, my favorite performance of Stuart Stone's has to be in Babar, where he played Alexander, a rambunctious young boy, not knowing what was right but always full of energy, and he also had a legitimate emotional core as well, such as when his sister Flora got pushed to the brink of death. The he was easily able to convincingly take that sort of premise and apply it to himself really reflected his self-pitying state of mind, and he was pure on here in a way that was both depressing and insightful.
8. I DON'T WANT BEEF (SKIT)
Me neither, but there are certain things that we must live with. Ah, how the world could be a better place if conflicts were that easily resolvable.
9. KNUCKLE UP
On this song, Stu and Jamie threaten to pounce on their haters while also taking a few drinks. I understand this is a comedic album and that you're both actors, but if you're going to do an aggressive song, then you can't have it sound Hollywood-y, since that just makes you look pretentious as fuck. Skip!
10. CAR REAR
This title makes it appear that this song was designed for the rear of your car, which it might have been, with bass that would sound almost perfect. There's no true subject matter: the duo just rap about anything that they can, making this the equivalent of a freestyle session, except with a boring ass beat (one that switches up somewhat throughout the song.) Surprisingly, this serves as a showcase for Stu blowing his rap partner Jamie out the water, showing his dominance in the rap game with dope lines such as, “When you were sucking your thumb, I was messing with Care Bears / And not that you care but the shit still airs”, referencing his past career and providing a clever meta reference at that. However, one dope guy isn't enough to elevate this song to greatness, but if you need an example of how good Stuart Stone is at rapping, here you go.
11. MATTRESS MACK (FEAT. PAUL WALL)
With that song title, you may think that this will be about our hosts macking on different brands such as Sally, Serta, Spring Air, Spring & Fosters, Tempur-Pedic, and the like, but this is actually a pathetic attempt at aping the South, one that sounds really terrible. Even with the obvious exaggeration for comedic effect, “Mattress Mack” sounds like everything on the radio at the time, with references to sizzurp, pimping and all of the rest of the necessary slang. Both rappers manage to be outperformed by guest star Paul Wall, who sounds much more comfortable lyrically and actually knows what he's talking about. He isn't amazing or anything, but at least he's trying, unlike Stu and Jamie.
12. BLANE'S STORY (SKIT)
An embarrassment on all levels.
The wackness continues, although this time they're actually rapping about bologna. It's interesting to hear of the various stuff the duo does with bologna, and it helps the album almost get back on track, but the track is derailed with its terrible stereotypical inflections that involve foreplay and the F-word, which makes all of this painful to listen to. Whose idea was this, anyway?
14. FUCK JAMIE KENNEDY (FEAT. E-40 & JASON BIGGS)
You know what's funny? A song dissing Jamie Kennedy on his own album. Oh wait, scratch that: what's even funnier is having a rapper dis him but then turning around and showing love, like the equivalent of a weak comedy roast. All of the rappers on here lack bite and fail to provide any convincing reason for us to care about Jamie Kennedy.
15. CELEBRITY STALKER
Sound like someone placed an Eminem song on this album, except with cheaper production values and the targets aren't nearly as funny or shocking. Speaking of which, another one of my favorite Stu Stone performances was in The Magic School Bus where he played Ralphie: I'm sure at least one of you will remember how Ralphie used to say or do questionable stuff and all of the kids would say in unison, “Ralphie!” That was fun.
16. STRIP CLUB DUMMY
This is embarrassing, but do you know what's truly embarrassing? The state of music today. Does creativity not exist in music anymore?
17. MESSAGE FROM ICE-T
Yup, this is exactly what you expected. Ice-T praises Jamie Kennedy, and his wife Coco even gets a chance to praise Stuart Stone as the sexiest man alive. They must have paid a pretty penny to get this endorsement onto Blowin' Up.
18. GUNS (FEAT. GILL T. PLEASURE)
For our final track, Jamie and Stu step out and unknown rapper Gill T. Pleasure takes the reigns of a track dedicated to guns (or to not having them, anyway). The beat is surprisingly good: the simplistic drum & bass of the track is the perfect environment for our guest, who manages to be both forceful and concise with lyrics that remind you of the 1990's, or at least of some more recent underground releases. The only thing that ruins this is the chorus, with dismisses the serious mood, and the frequency of said chorus, which harms our host by making him look half-assed. Other than that, this was pretty entertaining.
If you left your CD playing, then there's a secret bonus track waiting for you.
19. SECRET BONUS TRACK
An advertisement for ringtones (all of which are silly) disguised in a thinly-veined cloud of cleverness. Whether you like these ringtones is up to you.
THE LAST WORD: I am amazed that these two managed to team up to release an album in the first place. Alas, this seems to be a comedic rap album that's less about the funny and more about the seriousness of this rap shit. Much of Blowin' Up is mired in common rap clichés passed off as comedy and some terrible beats that are either failed attempts at club bangers, failed attempts at Southern drawls, or failed attempts at underground bangers. There is some magic to this album, in that Jamie and Stu make a good duo. However, Stuart Stone manages to outpace Jamie Kennedy by a fairly large margin, confirming that he indeed has a future in this rap shit and raising the question of whether or not this was an equal partnership. A few songs do click with mesmerizing beats, an infectious charm, and shows of actual talent from the two (and I can even admire the brief attempts at experimentation throughout), but you have to suffer through the rest of the album just to find them. Both Jamie and Stu have done better work in the past as actors, and, simply put, this album is not worth your time or your one measly cent on Amazon.com (for the physical copy, anyway).
(Questions? Comments? Confused homophobic threats of bodily harm? Leave them below.)