ast Christmas a close friend gave me a gift: Kids Rap Radio, two discs of sparrow-voiced youngsters chasing down “Fresh Azimiz,” “Laffy Taffy,” and a snacks-and-candy inspired take on T.I.’s “Why You Wanna.” It was masterminded by Beyonce’s father. It seemed to occupy a unique, albeit eminently disposable, place in the hip-hop galaxy. I ended up reviewing it.
After hearing Yung Joc’s second album, Hustlenomics, I, for this first time since I listened to it, thought of Kids Rap. The jewel case doesn’t lie: multiple Joc covers by the tikes on Kids.
Which, when you think about it, makes perfect sense. Joc squeezed two hit singles and an increasingly rare platinum plaque by selling his shit (Crystal Light trap-hop) in school zones. On BET he proudly said he wrote hooks simple enough for little kids to memorize. Nothing on New Joc City could be considered anywhere near adult: hooks were barely polysyllabic, beats were shinier and waxier than marzipan, and iconography was all pastel, pre-school “hustler.” No crack was sold. Stuff went down. No paranoia lurked. Joc told the gathered masses to look at him. And to no one’s surprise, Hustlenomics is another Chili’s fajita platter of reductive, inhuman, linguistic impotence.
Joc still can’t employ anything other than monosyllabic end-rhymes (“throat” / ”coast” is about as interesting at that mechanism gets). All of Hustlenomics beats, even those offerings from rarified players like the Neptunes (“Hell Yeah”) and DJ Quik (“Cut Throat”), are the expected shuffle board of damp drum rolls and cold synth flares. It doesn’t help, either, that there are no real “individual” songs. Or that there’s a single presentation designed for the cartoonish and the tweener, drenched in uninspired codes (lead single “Coffee Shop”: “First I talk their order like coffee shop / Then I steam it up and whip like a coffee shop”)
Oh yeah. And the strip mall sentiment (“Love takin’ snap shots on the phone cam / Ringtone knockin’ out, girl that’s out jam”) and truck loads of unnecessary sleigh bells effects. Half the hooks are the standard saber rattling, the other half are the of Richard Scary variety, tailor-made for eight year olds. And maybe that’s why Joc irks so many people: His hooks, as child oriented as Flintstone tabs (“A, B, C, D, E, F, I’m a G!”), are getting into a generation of American eleven year olds before Run-DMC and Jay-Z. Won’t someone think of the children?