It’s hard to be objective about rap-rock. While it’s more or less an amusingly tasteless footnote to the mid-to-late ’90s, it got a lot of mainstream attention — until everyone realized that turntables were not as cool as originally thought.
And yet, rap-rock persists, its practitioners waving their tribal-tattooed arms in the air like they just don’t care. Simply put, just as you can still find marching-band nerds dorking it up in ska-punk outfits, there will always be white guys who love Rakim and Redman, and so rap-rock will live on … in all of its sordid, toothless, baggy-pants’d glory. Some cities, however, are hotter beds for rap-rock than others, and Fort Worth seems to bear more than its fair share of the load. This is probably the fault of Pimpadelic. Seems that every time frontman Eazy Jesus Coe kicks out a sideman or loses one, another rock ’n’ rap crew is spawned. One such severed head is MC 100 Proof, who’s now fronting The Hype. If his name sounds familiar, then you probably caught The (White) Rapper Show on VH1, a sort of Bands on the Run but for white rappers rather than indie-rockers. Proof competed against MCs named (hahahaha!) $hamrock and G-Child. Homeboy didn’t win, but knowing that another Fort Worth band (whose name we all know) had won a previous VH1 reality show but for naught, maybe Proof’s bum outing doesn’t matter. (Apparently, the rock-rapper had to turn in his sneakers, literally — that’s what happened when a contestant got kicked off the show — because he was “redundant” and “un-modern.” And he also peed in a sink.)
Anyway, he came back home and put together Wash THIS Off, a collection of rhymes growled over the squealing sleaze of his backing band. If you can imagine AC/DC covering Poison but replacing Angus with a, um, turntable, you pretty much get The Hype. The tropes are all the same. Redneck glorification? Check. Aspiring porno queen on the album cover? Check. Sunglasses and tattoos? Check, and so on. As for the songs, they’re reflective of the genre’s constraints and, as a result, render the entire project uninteresting. For example, 100 Proof bills himself as an anti-bling king, but rather than attack regular rap’s tired consumerism, he opts to rhyme and rasp about screwing some dude’s trashy wife behind his back (“Belong to Me”). “Take” is probably the album’s best effort. Over an urgent, staccato guitar, 100 Proof waxes both angry and despondent, with red eyes and black thoughts. Maybe there’s a bruised ego beneath the id, you think, but then “Do it Again” galumphs along as a paean to forgetting what you did last night. The riffs are kinda cool throughout, and 100 Proof’s flow is clever and even, but it doesn’t add up to anything that will resuscitate an otherwise moribund genre.
On the other hand, does rap-rock even need its very own Tribe Called Quest? It’s not like the chess club is listening to this stuff. Judging by The Hype’s burgeoning fan-base, somebody is listening. And with Wash THIS Off, that’s all that really matters.-Steve Steward
Sat w/ Rehab and Crazy Anglos at The Rockyard, 2520 Rodeo Plaza, FW. 817-624-8888.