Friday, Feb. 22, 2008

Silly Rapper, Hip-Hop is for Kids

By Evan Rytlewski
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As if VH1's constant "I Love the '90s" marathons weren't already making the hip-hop generation feel old, April 1st will see the release of Baby Loves Hip Hop, a children’s record featuring “The Dino-5,” a supergroup of your favorite alternative rappers of yore.

Grown-ups intrigued by the roster should be warned that the album is strictly kids stuff—typical songs are about counting to 10, eating ice cream and playing soccer. Jurassic 5 baritone Chali Tuna plays MC T-Rex (who may be big and scary, but is really pretty nice), Scratch makes silly noises as Teo Pterodactyl, Wordsworth voices Billy Brontosaurus, and Digable Planets feminist Lady Bug goes full-on soccer mom as Tracy Triceratops, reminding children to brush their teeth (no get-your-laws-off-my-body civil disobedience here). Prince Paul, whose sprightly beats have always had a childish quality, produces as DJ Stegosaurus.

Little kids will gobble this down like a Happy Meal, but adult hip-hop fans might find it dispiriting. Like The Politics of Business, Prince Paul’s crappy concept album about a crappy concept album, the album exaggerates the flaws of bad, lazy rap. The beats are cloyingly uptempo, the flows are slowed down and softened to a conversational pitter-patter, and the rhymes are gratingly obvious. Kids music is supposed to sound this way, of course, but it’s the unintentional commentary on real alternative rap that makes me cringe. One may be for kids and the other ostensibly for adults, but the Dino-5’s Baby Loves Hip Hop frequently sounds indistinguishable from Jurassic 5’s last album.

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