Call for Essays About Any Aspect of Popular Culture, Present or Past

Music
cover art

Spank Rock

Everything Is Boring and Everyone Is a Fucking Liar

(Bad Blood; US: 27 Sep 2011; UK: 3 Oct 2011)

In music time, especially thanks to Twitter and the ever-expanding blogosphere, six years ago seems like an extremely long time ago. But six years has always been a drastically long time in hip-hop no matter which scene you subscribe to—you can generally follow the zeitgeist from Native Tongues to Wu-Tang to Rawkus to Roc-A-Fella to Mixtape Ubiquity on neat little four-to-six year arcs—and so a new Spank Rock album arrives to decidedly mixed anticipation. It’s been a long time since the Baltimore club scene led by artists like Spank Rock, Diplo and Amanda Blank felt like it was the future, let alone the then-burgeoning sub-genre of club-stink sex rap that Spank Rock’s YoYoYoYoYo so perfectly encapsulated. Since his surprise collaboration with Benny Blanco (now an understudy at Dr. Luke’s hit factory), Bangers & Cash, Naeem Juwan has remained largely out of the spotlight, relegated to obscure compilation appearances and sleazy features on dance albums. Quite frankly, Everything Is Boring arrives as much as a complete surprise as anything, as it seemed to appear out of nowhere. But now that it’s here, the big question seems obvious: can Juwan save the genre he helped kickstart from the should-be felons who shipped club rap off to the middle of Europe and mired it in an endless succession of sound-alike synth thumps and mindless chants or guile-less ‘80s pop radio samples?


The answer is…not really. No. By the third track, “Car Song”, featuring industry darling Santigold, it feels fairly obvious that Spank Rock is making a party album that pulls quite a lot of punches. Everything Is Boring is certainly more eager to fit in than its predecessor was. It’s also, as is so much club rap these days, way less reliant on the things the highlighted rapper is saying than the cool noises he’s allowed to back him up. For that Juwan turns mostly to Boys Noize, a German dude who’s carved out a career as a DJ and remixer with the occasional modestly-received single. But he enlists a wide array of other producer/DJs as well including LE1F, Savage Skulls, Mark Ronson and a couple reunion moments with XXChange, who helmed all but one track on YoYoYoYoYo. The end result is an album that feels constantly in search of a hit song, something that will impress the other DJs on the roster and convince them to throw a couple tracks into their next few sets. To this end the aptly named “#1 Hit” feels pretty up to the challenge at first with its hints of dubstep and clarion call to inebriated women that they can be made famous, but it’s pretty easily derailed by an embarrassingly skip-worthy bridge. The song also feels like Spank Rock himself had nothing to do with it, at least as a rapper. Which is actually a constant theme of everything here.


It’s honestly a little hard to judge Spank Rock’s sophomore slump because it so obviously has little interest in being judged as a long player or, in most cases, even a Spank Rock album. It’s very high energy and most of the tracks here wouldn’t struggle to grab the ears of someone deeply immersed in clubbing culture (or just incredibly strung out on cocaine) but to the average listener—or those who wanted another genre-defining release like YoYoYoYoYo—it’s pretty disappointing to receive what amounts to a Boys Noize & Friends album whose greatest contribution from Spank Rock himself is the tossed-off diss “Jay Leno suck a dick!” on “Turn It Off”. I’ll throw in the Prince evoking “Baby” as well, partially because it plays so against type. Oh, and “Hot Potato” is greatly refreshing during the album’s final lap as it’s highly reminiscent of the sort of music Spank Rock’s actually good at. More of that and “Cool Shit” and less “Race Riot” would have been an excellent choice.


The “Hennessey Youngman” skit in the middle of the album, as mildly humorous as it is, feels wholly indicative of this album’s circumstances. Everything Is Boring sounds very uninspired, very trapped in its moment, very everything YoYoYoYoYo succeeded in being the opposite of. Most importantly and disappointingly, it sounds like an album that was made just to stop questions over when Spank Rock will release another album. Because after hearing Everything Is Boring, it’s hard to imagine most listeners mustering up any anticipation for another go around with an artist who first squandered away all of his heavy buzz through dormancy and then came out of hibernation to release an album devoid of interesting ideas. It’s kind of fun, sure, but not in a way that feels less empty than any of the other pop rap perpetually blasting out of car radios. I mean, what does “all you black girls shake it ‘til my dick turn racist” mean coming from a black man anyway? Does he not like it when asses get shook? Or does he just not care what he’s saying anymore? I certainly don’t.

Rating:

David Amidon has been writing for PopMatters since 2009, focusing on hip-hop, R&B and pop. He also manages Run That Shit on RateYourMusic.com, a collection of lists and rankings of over 1,000 reviewed hip-hop albums created mostly to be helpful and/or instigating. You can reach him on Twitter at @Nodima.


Media
Spank Rock - DTF DADT
Related Articles
17 Dec 2014
“Do you want a spanking or do you want to go to bed?” This EP is meant for those who want it both ways.
29 Aug 2012
The completely free Afropunk Festival celebrates "rock and rebellion" with acts like Das Racist, Toro Y Moi, Janelle Monáe and Erykah Badu.
20 Jan 2008
Everyone in attendance had come prepared to bang on until the party juice had been drunk to the bottom of the jar.
24 Apr 2007
Spank Rock curate the latest mix in the Fabriclive series, and manage to make Yes and Kurtis Blow good bedfellows, while also tapping hard-hitters like DFA and Daft Punk to anchor this strong compilation.
discussion by
Comments
Now on PopMatters
PM Picks
Announcements

© 1999-2014 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters.com™ and PopMatters™ are trademarks
of PopMatters Media, Inc.

PopMatters is wholly independently owned and operated.