A lot of staunch Hip Hop purists decry the devolution of their beloved subculture, as hedonistic yearnings, materialistic greed and overt male chauvinism have become the go-to formula for commercial success. Ironically, these aforementioned gimmicks have made Rap the most popular form of urban dance music in the world today. In particular, kids from Atlanta to Zurich love gyrating to the frenetic beats and thug-obsessed lyrics of artists who claim Bodymore, Murderland as their home turf. What do you call this newfound amalgamation of sound? B-More Club, of course!
Hot on the heels of the moderate success of their last release, B-More Gutter Music, B-More Club Crack is yet another compilation of hustler-influenced club bangers from famed deejays/producers Aaron Lacrate (of Milkcrate Athletics fame) and Debonair Samir. Instead of merely putting on a masterful mix of the burgeoning sub-genre's most cherished tunes for the audience to dance to, this particular release finds them fine-tuning their approach in order to win the respect of diehard Rap fans who would otherwise find their brand of dance music devoid of content and nothing more than a passing fad. Have the dynamic duo finally succeeded in bringing their future-forward Funk to the lyric-minded Hip Hop massive or will their latest full-length be heard in vain?
Surprisingly, the future looks bright for B-More Club when the very people this music enjoys objectifying are the ones who step to the microphone and give it their all. In other words, the misogyny inherent in this new style of Dance Hop could be the sole reason why the ladies on B-More Club Crack feel the need to "settle the score" and provide balance to the otherwise male-dominated tales of bravado, success and sexual desire. For instance, on "Everybody On It," the album's most satisfying cut, Mz. Streamz blazes through the irresistibly sparse track that would make The Neptunes proud. She expresses her feminine charm and more than holds her own in the lyrics department. Elsewhere, Keesh goes hard by representing her B-More hood (and subsequently, her gender) with glee and admonishes the audience to do the same. Other cuts that feature female vocals include the hypnotic bump of "Rocking With the Best" (featuring Eliza Doolittle's melodic accompaniment) and the ecstatic bounce of "Tear it Up," another song highlighting Mz. Streamz's lyrical abilities and sexual appeal.
On the rest of B-More Club Crack, the music takes on a decidedly east coast thug feel, with a mostly mediocre display of macho behavior further intensified by rhythmic discussions that cover the usual topics in Hip Hop today (e.g., grinding, bagging "Hoes" and riding fly whips). Take, for example, "The Real is Back" (featuring Mullyman). This song is sonically sound and purports to be a heavy club anthem for hustlers and gangsters worldwide (complete with police sirens, a Fatman Scoop clone and clever use of a famed Jay-Z quote). Unfortunately, the rapper is unable to fully capture the cinematic brilliance and technical eloquence of the aforementioned Brooklyn emcee. On "Oh My Gosh", B-More native Verb attempts to slay the horn-infested jam with lyrical gems but he utterly fails to carry the buoyant energy of the track past the mismatched vocal drudge of dancehall stalwart Mr. Vegas. Last but not least, on "Came 2 Party", Lacrate and Samir slow down the usual up-tempo vibe of B-More Club to accompany the slow-burn of the UGz's weed-induced flow, but their raps are too unimaginative and uninspired to be considered worth remembering.
In the past, respect in Hip Hop could rarely have been earned by massive records sales and club appeal alone. Even though the B-More Club formula of celebrating male-oriented thug passion alongside catchy beats is becoming more popular these days, the wordplay displayed is not necessarily top notch and, at times, a mere shadow of New York's lyrical influence. Fortunately, the ladies featured on Aaron Lacrate and Debonaire Samir's latest offering, B-More Club Crack, accompany the team's jittery dance beats with a surprising amount of playful intensity and raw hunger rarely matched by their male counterparts. This fact will bring serious consideration to Baltimore, Maryland as a hotbed of future talent. In due time, B-More might just become the next Rap Mecca in not only rhythm, but also in rhyme.