Shifty
Happy*Love*Sick
2004
C



a couple months ago the editor of a large magazine revealed he was an ignorant turd by claiming that Crazy Town’s “Butterfly” was possibly the worst song of all time. I say ignorant because he’s clearly never heard any other song by Crazy Town—all grossly inferior—and a turd because “Butterfly”, despite a Vaseline-smeared erotic fantasy video whose participants revealed at least 907 too many body modifications, was one of the finest pop songs of 2001: a strong memorable groove holding up the one instance where a nu-metal clod implied that the nookie was a means of expressing love and appreciation rather than an invite to jezebel-fueled misery. You might not even have realized it was nu-metal unless you saw rapper Shifty Shellshock’s Durst-gone-glam visage. There’s a reason every girl in the film Orange County was listening to it.

Where former west coast headbangers Sugar Ray responded to their fluke lightweight hit “Fly” by shamelessly offering more of the same and dropping the hardcore pretense, the first single off of Crazytown’s follow-up was a joyless dirge that found them pondering the price of success. America helpfully responded by ignoring it entirely.

Realizing the error of his ways, Shifty has finally put out Butterfly: The Album. The first 2/3s of Happy*Love*Sick consist of lightweight raps about how Shifty loves you. For you are special. You are beautiful. You keep turning him on. You’re “making him think sexual things”. You’re “lipstick like a red corvette with intellect”. He’s never felt like this before. You’ve made this player want to settle down. Shifty loves you and hopes this will be forever. You two should stay together like his name was Al Green. “If I wasn’t passionate about it then I wouldn’t explode”. You got him levitatin’ with your sex education. Ooh.

He’s so high on love he’s rhyming “lolita” with “fever” and “I need you”. The closest thing he comes to an emotion other than rapturous affection is when he begs you to forgive him for his cheatin’ ways because he misses “the afternoon backshots and the midnight smashing”. Though none of these mash-notes makes legs shake like his sole hit did, some of them might “tickle your pink” if you let him “get down”. He gets further points for acknowledging the glory of Sugar Ray on the “Every Morning”-rip “Magical”, letting his young ‘un “Baby Halo” gurgle and bang on a keyboard for a couple seconds and including his two-year-old Paul Oakenfold collaboration “Starry-Eyed Surprise” (a.k.a. “Butterfly On Ecstasy”) which sounds immediately more authoritative than everything else here.

The album might have been a minor bubblegum-rap classic (LOVE the outta-nowhere scratch breaks) if not for the final third, which opens with, judging by the liner notes, a vapid memorial to the only black person he’s ever known. “When We Were Young” (which sadly samples neither Roxy Music’s “If There Was Something” or Joy Division’s “Insight”) chronicles his livin’-like-a-wild-child days, acknowledging he’s the privileged son of an industry insider while at the same time claiming that you shouldn’t step to him because he’s “not afraid to bleed”. People curious to learn more about this breed of rich white hooligan should check out the film Lost Angels, which stars King Ad-Rock and Michael Bolton from Office Space as similarly troubled youths and Donald Sutherland and Michael Bolton’s biggest fan from Office Space as the psychiatrists who deal with them.

The less said about “Take The Pain Away” the better, though the finale “All Along” does return to the subject of True Love (and features some unexpected Eno/Lanois-style synth-washes). I’d admire this late-in-the-game attempt to rekindle the commercial fires more if he didn’t make it clear he’ll want to talk about his problems once you’ve come, come.



Reviewed by: Anthony Miccio
Reviewed on: 2004-09-09
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