Hated on Mostly
ad but true: In hip-hop, women spend most of their time on the sidelines. They’re the dancers in the videos, the frequently anonymous singers of the hooks, and the coveted accoutrements of the wealthy young male successes. Even when they do get to rap, they’re usually a secondary attraction, and most of the time, deservedly so. It’s certainly easier for a mediocre male rapper to build a solid career, but it isn’t as if artists like Lil’ Kim or Trina are excluded unfairly from considerations of all time, or even current, greats.
It seems a rule that nearly every crew, once it reaches a certain size, must recruit a woman—Jha Jha of Dipset, Remy Ma of Terror Squad, Shawnna of Ludacris’ Disturbing Tha Peace—but these rappers tend to garner little time on the mic, and the rare album they do get to release will almost certainly disappear rapidly. Exceptions like Lauryn Hill and Missy Elliott, good as they are, usually exist in their own milieu, undisputed leaders of single star scenes.
So, it’s no surprise that Princess and Diamond of Crime Mob haven’t been given the spotlight. They had to take it. Crime Mob’s male contingent is extensive and not particularly interesting; alone, their voices tend to coalesce into a melange of shouting Southern accents. It’s left to the women to provide definition for each track, and they do so with razor sharp alacrity. There is barely a track on Hated on Mostly, Crime Mob’s follow up to its gleefully abrasive self-titled debut, that does not benefit from Princess and Diamond’s lively flow; they are the highlights of the best tracks and redeem the missteps.
Neither rapper is going to make a claim to lyrical greatness any time soon, but within the small niche Crime Mob occupies—anarchic Southern club tracks—they tower over the competition. This is chaotic, confrontational rap music that batters like punk rock; lyricism is unnecessary and unwanted in these compositions, and Princess and Diamond are able to dominate verbally without relying on either. They’ve got presence and personality, not cerebral couplets and poetic imagery—and that’s all they need. Rabid crunk ratbaggery may only be the basis for a small empire, but it is one that these women reign over.
“Rock Yo’ Hips” is a rudimentary dance track that leaves lesser attempts at the same, (DJ Webstar’s “Chicken Noodle Soup,” Yung Joc’s “It’s Goin’ Down”) trailing in its wake. That can be attributed as much to Diamond’s swaggering braggadocio, (she possesses “32 flavors of that bootylicious bubblegum”; Willy Wonka is supposedly interested in writing her pay checks) as to producer and Crime Mob member Lil’ Jay’s delectable timpani rolls.
And just as the unexpectedly delightful vocal contributions—Diamond’s rapid flow on “Shine Cause I Grind,” the brutal clarity Princess’ verse introduces to “Represent”— make these tracks better than they have any right to be, the beats also do a fine job of picking up any slack. Production is kept mostly in-house, with Cyco Black, MIG, and to an even greater extent, Lil’ Jay, executing an exceptionally thrilling form of Southern dance music. Particularly impressive is “Represent,” a volatile concoction of furious, reverberating firearm blasts, booming handclaps, and scorching, apocalyptic guitar lines; if previous hit “Knuck if You Buck” had not done so already, it establishes Lil’ Jay as one of the South’s most underrated producers.
Of the interlopers present, the most successful is Doc Jam, whose “Circles” is the album’s obvious stand out. It’s the one moment Crime Mob allows itself to exit the club, turning its attention to a he-said, she-said love song punctuated by a gapped sample of Friends of Distinction’s “Going in Circles.” It’s a welcome change of pace of which the album could have used more.
Only when the rudimentary lyricism becomes aggressively awful does Crime Mob stumble. “I read niggas just like comic books” is a cute simile, but it wears out its welcome when repeated multiple times as the hook for “2nd Look.” Even worse is a verse on “Shine Cause I Grind”: “I never had a job / They wouldn’t hire me cause I was looking like a slob / In school I was a fool / My grades was off the wall / Was failing every class so they wouldn’t let me play no ball,” a distractingly inane passage in what is already a sub par reproduction of Three 6 Mafia member Juicy J’s “Slob on My Knob.”
That these weaker moments were allowed to remain on the album is particularly puzzling; a mournful dirge titled “What Is Love,” was recorded for the record, but omitted from the release. Why this song, which features an eerie sample of the Haddaway dance hit of the same name, failed to make the album is a mystery; along with “Circles,” it is amongst the best material recorded for Hated on Mostly. Crime Mob could not possibly have thought that two conflicted love songs on the album would be redundant; this is, after all, a group that finds it necessary to inform listeners that they are “Big Boy Pimpin’” immediately after affirming, “We Some Playaz.” But even without the extra dimension that track could have offered, Hated on Mostly remains a spirited, engaging listen. Perhaps when Princess and Diamond release an album without their male counterparts, as they inevitably will, they will produce a masterpiece.
Reviewed by: Jonathan Bradley
Reviewed on: 2007-09-25