Saturday, May 26, 2007

The Analog Brothers--Pimp to Eat: The best hip-hop album ever?

This one dropped in mid-August of 2000, and got a little coverage, but not much. Even Ice-T and Kool Keith seemed to think it was one of their minor works! They were wrong, this is some of the best hip-hop ever.

I've heard just
about everything in rap (pity me), and this is really as classic and cutting-edge as all the greats of rap like Grandmaster Flash, or Afrika Bambaataa. What makes it so great is that it consciously looted the past, the present, and the future.

"Pimp to Eat" could be released now, and it would still be fresh. Sure, there are tracks with titles that date it a little ("2005"), but overall, these are some of the finest moments that Ice-T and Kool Keith have ever had.

The best part: it's loaded with that Parliament/Bernie Worrell analog-synth sound that literally drags me back into the 1970s again...that's a good place to be these days!

From the hilarious cover, to the insane and comedic rhymes and great beats, it just kicks. You cannot lose with a lineup that includes Jacky Jasper, Kool Keith, Ice T, Marc Live, Black Silver, DJ Cisco, Rhyme Syndicate, & Pimp Rex; all of them are associates of either Kool Keith or Ice-T, and all are incredible at writing whacked-out music and off-kilter rapping (and most all of them can freestyle too). Anyway, there was coverage in URB, some interviews, and a tour. That was it. Nu Gruv didn't have the budget of the major labels, and rap fans love hype if they love anything at all.

Maybe that's inevitable: anything that's genuine or real has to be underground nowadays. Maybe that's always been the case, and that it's OK. But wouldn't it be cool if Keith and Ice could be Black Elvis again? I mean no disrespect to either of them, I'm just wishing for some breakthroughs like Elvis. He came out of nowhere!It wasn't the big labels that made him, it was the fans. It wasn't the hype--that came later--it was the skill and the freshness. Ice-T had his period of major fame and he still does on tv. Kool Keith had his time in the Ultramagnetic MCs, Dr. Octagon, Dr. Dooom, and all his other side-projects, but this album shoulda, woulda, coulda been huge.

Pimp to Eat is unashamedly Black, and couldn't be anything else! I could see a new Black Nationalist Movement grooving to this shit, like they did to James Brown's "Say it Loud (I'm Black and I'm Proud)." Without quoting it, it's a celebration of Black culture, even the dregs, the pimps, the hustlers, the shills, the junkies, crackheads, stickup men, with a healthy-dose of humor.

Ice-T even
lampoons himself on "
Who Wanna Be Down?" It must be heard to be believed, and probably one of the rarest things in rap: merciless self-deprecation.

The cuts that really hooked me were "2005," and "Analog Annihilator VRS. Silver Surfer," some of the heaviest L.A.-based rapping I've ever heard. It just has the right mix of pachuco and pimpness, very hard and cutting. But hey, that's really the whole concept of this album: it's pimp rap! That's what you get. "So Bad" has roots in so many R&B and blues songs--and high camp--about a mother's worries about her bad son, so familiar that it doesn't need comment. It's in the American genetic makeup now, something in the water.

Listening to this album, you may not exactly be down, but you can enjoy the few delights of pimpdom, that rarified universe of Iceberg Slim and his cousins the Analog Brothers. Find it, burn it, earn it, learn it (and yearn it). Best rap album ever? I'd be hard-pressed to find one that's better, though I would nominate Sensational's
"Corner the Market" (1999) and Dan the Automator's and Kool Keith's "Dr. Octagonecologyst" 12" series and LP (1996) as major contenders.

What makes this so fun is they get that rapping has to have the same elements of "playing the dozens," of alter-ego grandstanding and the putdown. It's all in good fun, though, and the pimps elevate hip-hop to an art. "Pimp to Eat" takes a very free genre and shoots it into the stratosphere, which shouldn't be surprising considering the talent here.