I’ve waited far to long for this LP to drop, I know it was only last year they put out ‘The spot’ remix EP and ‘Stone Crazy’ about 2 years ago but the promise of new material had me amped. ‘Stone Crazy’ was a classic, its mix of Funky production with dark beats and the Beatnuts trademark ‘we’ll fuck you up’ lyrical attack was great. Add to this the fact they had just had to carry on as a duo, this proved they could still hold it down. Rewind to 94 with the release of ‘Street Level’ when Kool Fash AKA Al Tariq was still in the fold and you had even further proof that this production team were on some classic shit even though they are still highly underrated today.
‘Off the books’ got a lot of heads open to the Beatnuts this time round and the merger between their label Relativity and Loud should make sure they get the props they deserve this time. But the question is do they deserve the props? Can they still deliver the goods? Read on...
To begin with there’s a rarity with ‘Musical Massacre,' only a handful of tracks got leaked, so I haven’t heard the whole album separately before I digest it in one go, seems like that never happens these days. The album kind of picks up where ‘Stone Crazy’ left off, the intro is full of funky sound bites over the same sample they used on ‘Off the books’, intros are usually a load of shit, I can listen to this one. This is one of the Beatnuts great abilities, to produce interesting and dope interludes, sometimes leaving you wishing they’d rhymed over 'em. Now its been a while since ‘Beanuts forever’ first cropped up, its already been on the Violator album, but it still serves as a great start off and as fresh as ever when the sample ‘you’re the best there is’ kicks in. This is Beatnuts at their threatening best, over a haunting beat it just serves as a reminder of how sick they can come. Also previously released was the psycho Sesame Street sampling on ‘Watch out now’, its flute so funky and lyrics so apt it’s instantly a classic. Highlights come thick and fast whether it’s on ‘Mucha cha cha’, ‘Monster Music’ or the hook ups on ‘Slam pit’
Now Psycho Les & JuJu’s lyrics have come into question a lot over the past few years, of course they ain’t on no complex lyrical fluctuation but they have the attitude and ability to fill in where they may falter, don’t forget they are a production team first though. Having Kool Fash on the team also gave them that extra edge as a trio which although isn’t painfully obvious it would have been nice if they’d hooked up for another track or two. The Void is filled with guests though, not too many and not too few, it’s just about right. Great examples include Greg Nyce who flips the Hook on the cartoon-ish ‘Turn it out’, Biz Markie who lends his drunken pre-ODB swagger to the Ill-as-fuck ‘Clown’s’. Former Relativity Resident and new found conscious emcee Common also brings his harder edge to the previously mentioned ‘Slam pit’ which also features that Terror Squadian, Cuban Link. Surprisingly Dead Prez try to weave their influence over the Duo on ‘Look around’ this ends up disappointing mainly cos you cannot take 'em seriously when try to step into a persona that’s just not them.
Its obvious this time round they are after the sales so a few more commercial hooks are added, nothing as great as 97’s anthem ‘Gimme tha ass’ but the album is padded out with the tracks here and there. The singing is a bit too preachy on the already mentioned ‘Look around’ and Cheryl Pepsi Riley does little to add to the track ‘I love it’ which would have been just as good with its low down dirty production. Mediocrity creeps in here and there, on tracks such as ‘coco taso’ amd ‘Se acabo’ but really that’s about it.
So the answer is yes, the Beatnuts have done it once again, filled with tracks of music that hasn’t been compromised (With the exception of the girlie hooks and a few gripes here and there), it's strictly Psycho Les & JuJu and that’s what hip hop needs.