Mcenroe stands with sweat beads dripping onto hands gripped tight around the tennis racket he's had since 1991. The packed stadium crowd looks on expectantly. Can this unranked player pull off the upset and move on to the next level? Mcenroe preparing to serve bounces the freshly squeezed ball twice in habitual rhythm, tosses it into the air above his head...bends his body while pulling his racket back and uncoils to hit the ball with everything he has...
Does he fault?
Does he play it safe?
Or does he blow the competition away?
In his first full length offering (and it really is solo, save for phone messages from John Smith, Pip Skid, Josh Martinez, and DJ Hunnicut) Mcenroe attempts to go from that unranked hopeful to a contender.
In this tournament edition of an album called "Disenfranchised" Mcenroe's all business. With his suit and tie rapping style he takes on anyone who has ever been against him. From the bullies he faced in high school to the critics on "Can't Get There From Here", where he raps... "They say I sound white/guess what? I am white" and "They said I don't have the voice/ that I should only produce/ they said to hang up the mike/ they said I don't have the juice" and to the corporate institute where he almost gave his soul away.
It's to this latter grudge that Mcenroe really makes his points. Political activist and filmmaker, Micheal Moore, revealed in an interview that his life's path seemed destined to putting cars together in an assembly plant. Mcenroe seemed destined to putting on a suit and tie everyday and working off the corporate line. What bumped him off that path? On "Wandering Eye" the music of hip hop may have sewed some seeds of discontentment, where he raps over a brooding string sample..."Well if you liked punk rock then you knew Public Enemy and of course De La Soul and the Beastie Boys/ but I mostly thought rap was a kind of commercial used to sell chicken and children's toys/ we used to dance to Dinosaur jr. and when Hammer came on we would head out to the hallway/ but after Mecca and the Soul Brother hit me it was all rap/ only rap/just rap/ all day."
With hip hop pumping through his veins he gave up that life of safety and security and put it into the rap game. Mcenroe assures us that it hasn't gotten to his head in the songs "What Will I Wear" where he jokes at wondering what he would wear in his own video being the "Sweater King" and all, and in one of the hardest banging joints on the album, "The Realest", where he conveys... "Follow me around for a day to see who is he/ but bring something to read to keep yourself busy/ it's not a lifestyle of glamour and luxery/ boxing up orders and shipping 'em properly/ working on my payables/ stressing on receivables/ finding time to write songs/ try to be believable/ it's cool with me and my lack of refinement/ cause in the end we're all living off consignment."
On Disenfranchised 3/4's of the album is filled with slow tempo songs and this is where Mcenroe faults. Maybe he's been living in Vancouver too long and needs the briskness of a Manitoba wind to get him moving. But, on songs like "Documentary", "For Service In English, Press One", "Convenience Now Redux", "Something To Complain About", "Working In The Factory", and "The Next Day" they all come off sounding uninspired. Also, the lack of representation on the album from his other break bread crew members, hurts in terms of the eccentricities and enthusiasm they would've brought to the court.
In the end Mcenroe addresses these criticisms by going on the offensive in the song "The Next Day" in which he responds to future critics by rapping..."So leave it to Mcenroe to take a slammin' album and end it on a low note/ so if you're sick of me i'm sick of me too/ take me out of your discman/ back in the packaging/ back to the record store / trade me for Mobb Deep/ trade me for Jay Z/ trade me for D'Angelo/ trade me or maybe you didn't even buy me/ delete me from your hard drive/ forget you ever knew me/ go back to the old routines in the past/ I knew your attention was too good too last."
But, by being your own worst critic doesn't make your opponents lessen up on you and cut you some slack. But, who am I to shit on a man's dream, and Mcenroe is living that dream when so many others stop short and settle. On "sleepwalking" Mcenroe sings..."You set your alarm everyday and want to go back to sleep/ you dred heading into work but you've got to make ends meet/ you used to have a dream but now you've settled for an occupation/ it's like you're sleepwalking with millions in the same situation/ wondering when you''ve awakened.
While he might not have won this match, he definitely gave the crowd something to cheer about and with a bit more practice on his serve; Mcenroe might one day become that contender...