February 10, 2018

The Beatnuts - Milk Me (August 31, 2004)

The Beatnuts are a team that have released six albums and two EPs commercially. There are a handful of other projects, but it isn’t very easy to find their instrumental contribution to the Hydra series, so for the sake of this paragraph we’ll stick with the above. Somehow, the duo of Psycho Les and Juju have inspired three greatest hits projects. Three. None of which include any songs from their last two full-length albums. So we’re really talking about four albums and two EPs that have generated enough interest to fully finance and market three separate greatest hits compilations.

Yep, that means The Beatnuts are masters at getting out of contractual obligations, forcing their former labels to make do with the materials they have.

Milk Me is the duo’s sixth album, and as of this writing, the last one they have produced, although the duo hasn’t officially called it quits. It was released in fourteen years ago by Penalty Recordings, the fourth label that The Beatnuts have called home, after Relativity, Loud, and Landspeed all found themselves at a standstill with the bombastic intoxicated demons. It sold hardly any copies in the United States and has likely contributed to the fact that, as I wrote before, this album was released fourteen fucking years ago.

The Beatnuts have always been go-to producers within our chosen genre, offering beats to the likes of Mos Def and Ghostface Killah, among others. But as rappers, Psycho Lester and Junkyard Juju have had less luck reaching a wide audience. They’ve flirted with success, thanks to their alliance with the late Big Pun and their dalliance with Loud Records, which helped push what became their biggest-selling project to date, A Musical Massacre, but they’ve never been able to maintain it, finding themselves firmly rooted in the underground through forces both within and outside of their control.

Milk Me is a noticeable departure for The Beatnuts. Long known as being prolific crate-diggers who are always on the lookout for a great sample to flip, Lester and Juju chose to implement more live instrumentation for this project, providing a cleaner sound with different textures than what you two may be used to hearing from the duo. It’s similar to what DJ Muggs tried to do with Cypress Hill’s Skull & Bones and Stoned Raiders, the latter of which is a project I wanted to include in this very silly stunt month of mine, but I honestly don’t think I’m going to be able to get to it, and not just because I really don’t want to listen to it.

Using live instruments is far from a bad thing: it helps give the Nuts a fresher perspective, and the tracks may lend themselves to more theatrical live performances. It works for The Roots, anyway. But there’s a difference between attempting to sound playful while fucking around with a guitar and a trumpet, and locating the perfect whimsical sample source that you can easily chop up into something ridiculously catchy. So I guess we’ll see where Milk Me lands on that spectrum.

A thing that exists.

Honorary third Beatnut (or fourth, if you still count Fashion) Greg Nice gets his obligatory guest appearance out of the way rather quickly, almost as though he were apologizing to the fans for not appearing on their previous project, The Originators. That last sentence isn’t indicative of the song’s quality, though: “Hot” is very goddamn fun, benefiting from not being as overexposed as his previous work with our hosts, such as “No Escapin’ This” and “Turn It Out”. “Hot” was also allegedly released as a single, but it never made it out my way, so I didn’t ever hear it until I got my hands on the proper album, and I’d be willing to go on record as saying this track is better than every other Greg Nice collaboration. Juju’s verse is commanding and direct, and Psycho Lester has noticeably stepped up his bars on this punchy production. And Greg Nice’s part of the hook is just so goddamn catchy. Fans of a certain age and/or taste may recall the instrumental being borrowed by The Game and his then-G-Unit cohorts 50 Cent and Tony Yayo for the mixtape cut “Do You Remember?”, and while Curtis is whatever on it with his ad-libs and goofy hook, Game and, surprisingly, Yayo sound pretty fucking great over it. Maybe that's a new market The Beatnuts could cater to.

Sadly, their streak of wins ends with the very next track, as “Buggin’” is dull as fuck. The instrumental sounds as though all of the effort (read: horns) was allocated for the hook, while the rest of the time the music was nothing but a necessary afterthought. Both Lester and Junkyard Juju appear audibly bored during the proceedings: only guest star Prince Whipper Whip (quite the random name to pull from the cameo hat, guys) put any thought and energy into his performance, and as such, walks away with the track. Kudos to the Beatnuts for hiring musicians to play the guitar, keyboards, and horns live, as opposed to just sampling everything as usual, but man, this shit sucked.

Musically, “It’s Nothing” goes a long way toward course correction: the instrumental is engaging from the jump, its simple loop bouncing along with the melody. Psycho Lester opens the track and sounds okay, while Juju’s boasts-n-bullshit are far more believable, but guest star Andre the Giant (of the Diggin’ In The Crates crew) wins the day. This makes complete sense: when paired up with folks known for spitting, the Beatnuts default into facilitator mode, doing whatever it takes for their guest to shine. Gab Goblin, who apparently isn’t Gab Gatcha (a previous Beatnut collaborator) from what I could find online, lends an unnecessary hook that still wasn’t bad.

Short and sweet, but could have been tacked on to the end of “It’s Nothing” and not disrupted the overall flow of Milk Me.

The audience “Find Us (In The Back Of The Club)” was recorded for doesn’t goddamn fucking exist. Easily one of the worst songs Lester and Jester have ever recorded. I may need to be prescribed blood pressure medication now. It’s not like The Beatnuts are adverse to writing songs about fucking, but this shit? Nope. And Akon? Really? The sound of the boys selling their respective souls was captured on this recording.

Not so fantastic that it eradicated the memory of the previous song from your memory or anything, but “U Nomsayin” is at least a step back in the right direction. The beat is grimier, yet there’s a hint of melody buried underneath the drums that pushes the enterprise forward, and Lester and Juju spit their boasts-n-bullshit with renewed vigor. Surprise guest star Freeway, who has to be loving his hometown Eagles this week, brings his beard to the third verse and fucking kills it, though: please refer to what I wrote earlier about the Beatnuts bring performance facilitators. Unexpectedly nice.

Another attempt to get into the club thwarted by an unsympathetic bouncer who would rather be anywhere else, although at least “We Don’t Give A Funk” has a modicum of funk in it. The music isn’t bad: it’s kind of catchy, and it bounds about nicely. Psycho Les and Juju, opting to go it themselves as opposed to inviting any guests this time around, take up the space of a single verse each, filling the room with the inane shit-talking that comes after hours of drinking, smoking, and generally enjoying life. This isn’t a good song, but aside from some of Lester’s descriptions of sexual intercourse on here, it isn’t offensive in any way.

This may be the easiest guest spot Rahzel (formerly of the Roots) has ever booked: Roc Raida was brought in to provide actual deejay scratching, so Rahzel didn’t have to do the sounds himself, which is what he’s most famous for. He just has to rap, and he does so during the third verse, sounding like an angry, less talented version of Black Thought, but to be fair, Black Thought is just really that fucking good, folks. Lester, Juju, and Rahzel all deride anonymous artists for not understanding how to milk the music industry for all it’s worth, which was a bit too inside baseball for a mainstream audience. The music was kind of bland, but the verses were okay, I suppose.

Please refer to my first sentence from the review for “Find Us (In The Back Of The Club)”.

The beat on here is only one step removed from being a faux-Neptunes instrumental. Since live musicians were used here, as opposed to those robots from Westworld, this feat is kind of impressive, but coming from the Beatnuts, this isn’t something that people actually want from these guys. So “Madness” was pretty confusing as a listening experience: it isn’t bad, and it isn’t good.

The chorus is ass, but otherwise this posse cut wasn’t that bad. Juju and guest star Triple Seis (formerly of the Big Pun-centric version of the Terror Squad) deliver the best performances, which isn’t that much of a shock. What was surprising to me is how Psycho Lester is the dude who released the solo project and not Junkyard Juju. Maybe he just didn’t give much of a fuck, I don’t know. Are we done talking about “We Getting Paper” now? Great.

Sure, okay.

There certainly is a lot to hate about “Uh Huh”: the annoying vocal sample, which gives the song its title, laid into the barely-there instrumental at a volume pitched louder than any of the fucking vocals; a homophobic bar from DJ Tony Touch, of all people; the fact that Junkyard Juju couldn’t be bothered to attend. So this track should be avoided at all costs. I will say that Gab Goblin, allowed the opportunity to spit a verse this time around, kind of sounded like a less skilled Raekwon at times, which is still fairly decent.

The “Down” beat sounds like a live attempt at a Wu-Elements clone, which isn’t a criticism, even if it is a bit repetitive: after all, most Clan beats are loops, too. But the musical backing doesn’t inspire any of the participants, as Lester, Juju, and guest star Milano spit generic threats and stuff less than convincingly, as though Milk Me has been an exhausting ordeal and they just want to get some sleep already. This analogy only works if you pretend that the Beatnuts recorded Milk Me sequentially and in just one take, by the way.


The beat isn’t bad, but I’m trying to forget the rest of this awful sex rap as quickly as possible. Wait, did guest crooner Chris Chandler just request “women one and over”? I fucking hope he’s talking quantity and not age. I have to go vomit now, excuse me.

Ending on an interlude? The hell? Well, if you take a gander at the runtime of the track, it’s clear that there’s a hidden song that will cap the evening, and there sure is: it’s called “Asshole” (according to early pressings of Milk Me, which don’t bother hiding the song), it kicks in around the two-minute mark, and it’s a Psycho Lester solo shot, one that doesn’t really explain why he’s supposed to be an “Asshole” when all he does is spit general boasts-n-bullshit. The musical backing is more engaging than most of Milk Me: I wouldn’t have minded if this lasted a little longer. But I get why it wasn’t a part of the regular program: its sound doesn’t mesh with everything else our hosts we retrying to accomplish.

International readers of the blog have access to a bonus track on their copies of Milk Me, which is placed before “Milk Me Interlude”, so as to keep “Asshole” a secret, I assume. Hence the numbering below, which isn’t a typo, unlike what I assume are a ton of legit mistakes within the body of this post.

Makes perfect sense to me why this remix (for a song I’m not familiar with) was withheld from the U.S. audience: drum-n-bass never really took off Stateside, and it sure as shit won’t suddenly do it now that the Nuts officially have a horse in the race. This shit was okay, and there are actual verses on here, but this was for curiosity purposes only.

International readers may also have access to a special exclusive double-disc version of MilkMe, where the second disc consists of the project’s instrumentals. Figured you’d want to know.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Milk Me is a noble experiment, but one that ultimately doesn’t work out as well as they would have hoped. There are plenty of Beatnuts albums with filler, but the bad songs are usually outweighed by fantastic tracks that improve your life for having taken the opportunity to listen in the first place: Milk Me has far more bad than good. The transition to using live instruments is interesting, to be sure: it’s a bid to extend the careers of Psycho Les and Juju within our chosen genre, because at some point every single sample in recorded history will have been utilized, and the gambit makes sense, as it positions the duo as actual musicians instead of just smart-asses who have good ears for beats. But I turn to the Beatnuts because they’re so fucking great at sourcing ridiculous samples and spinning them into gold (“Off The Books", their hit collaboration with Big Pun and Cuban Link, had an instrumental that consisted of a loop they found on a tape for a child’s fairy tale), so the mere concept of Milk Me sounds ludicrous to me, and unfortunately, the end result didn’t change my mind one bit. I hope these guys have it in them to release another project: a planned follow-up has been in the works for the better part of a decade now, and their collaborative effort with Tha Alkaholiks, Liknuts, will clearly never see a release date ever. The songs I listed below are definite keepers, but everything else, especially the ill-advised club attempts and horrific sex raps, should be dragged outside and shot in the street.

BUY OR BURN? No need to buy this one: steal stream this to your heart’s content, at least the tracks listed below.

BEST TRACKS: “Hot”; “Asshole”; “U Nomsayin”; "It's Nothing"


The Beatnuts have released a bunch of albums, all of which I’ve written about here.


  1. "Confused Rappers" is actually directed at the Trackmasters and Jennifer Lopez for swiping "Watch Out Now" for "Jenny From the Block."

    1. I swear they had already gone after J-Lo on their previous album. Eh, whatever.

    2. ISTR that Juju quashed it after the Trackmasters coughed up royalties, but that Psycho Les is still pissed at the Trackmasters. (Also, you can peep the source material for "Off the Books" off the Electric Company soundtrack – "Sign Song," at 1:39 in.)

      I also found it odd that Juju hasn't sustained, or even shown much interest in, a solo career especially since while apparently they both consider themselves producers first, of the two Juju's always showed the greater interest/aptitude in rapping. But Al' Tariq said Juju's officious management between Street Level and Stone Crazy fucked up an opportunity for greater exposure (either a tour promotion or signing to Elektra?), along with him not being especially fond of black people – maybe he hasn't been able to make much friends outside his immediate circle?

    3. Do you have a source for Al Tariq's comments? Because that seems incredibly shortsighted for a dude who works within a musical genre that is still mostly made up of African-Americans. (Although it would explain a lot about his lack of a solo career...)

    4. It comes from an interview Robbie Ettelson did with Al' Tariq back in 2015. Unfortunately he wiped 30 old interviews from Unkut for inclusion in Past The Margin: A Decade of Unkut Interview; Tariq's was one of them.

  2. So according to this review, It’s Nothing is better than U Nomsayin but isn’t one of the recommended tracks?

    1. It's an oversight that's been corrected, but it doesn't change the overall assessment.

  3. Where can I download this? Do you have any clue?

    1. Yeah, if you can find my review online, you can find the album. You don't really need our help, nor will we help you.