On their hit, “Peter Piper”, the legendary Run DMC immortalized one of English’s most ubiquitous slang words, “bad”, with the lines, “He’s the big bad wolf in your neighborhood / not ‘bad’ meaning ‘bad’ but ‘bad’ meaning ‘good’”. Well, that was the ‘80s. Now it’s 2006 and there’s a rapper from the Midwest who’s interested in making ‘good’ mean ‘damn good’. Joe Good, on his mixtape Hi, May I Help You?, teams up with his pal Mac Lethal, to represent the Midwest. These artists hail from Kansas City, Missouri and although the locale isn’t exactly known for cranking out rap superstars, Good and Lethal aren’t concerned with history. They just wanna verbally rip tracks apart. Concerned with displaying their own unique style, the intro, “The Bad News”, breaks it down like so:
Tens of thousands of CDs are released every year. Home recording innovations, on-demand replication, and new distribution options have all helped fuel the boom. The good news: most anybody can release an album and have it distributed throughout the world. The bad news: most anybody can release an album and have it distributed throughout the world.
Following this, Joe Good and friends seem determined to prove that Hi, May I Help You? doesn’t fall into the “bad news” category. And it doesn’t, as Joe Good combines the wry wit presented in the intro with engaging beats and rhymes. Joe Good might remind you a little bit—actually, a whole lot—of Ludacris. Good’s voice and tone sound like ‘Cris and, when it comes to vocal delivery, they sure do stretch their vowels and emphasize their end rhymes alike. The difference, though slight, is that Joe Good approaches this collection a little grittier, and with more of an edge, than Ludacris. Comparisons aside, the mixtape acts as an inviting advertisement for Joe Good’s full release No More Mr. Nice Guy, showing us what Mr. Good can do in enjoyable fashion. He’s serious about exposing fake rappers, as he does with “Whatchasay”, “All Good” (he says, “Too many rappers is thugs, I’m jackin’ their slugs”), “Last Call” (he quips, “Actin’ harder don’t make you tougher”), and “Hype Talk” (with lines like, “You don’t really drive a Benz, do you lie to your friends?” and “I bet you’re happy on Christmas because you feel gifted”). He’s protective of his home turf on “In Ya Mouf”, while showing his ability to switch gears and tempos on the reggae-flavored “Mr. Nice Guy”, featuring James Christos. But the real feathers in Joe Good’s cap of rhymes are: the twin jams “DIY” and “The Fact Is”; “Billz”, an ode to being broke; “Ice Cold”, featuring Big Jack and DJ Sku; “Pacin’”; and the gloriously funny, “Welcome To My MySpace”. That last track features Mac Lethal exploding over the beat from the Pharcyde’s “Yo Mama” for over three straight minutes, furiously switching topics ranging from his own credibility as a white rapper to Omar Epps being an underrated actor, until he finally admits his chest hurts. I’d recommend Hi, May I Help You? for that track alone but, luckily, I don’t have to. Joe is definitely good, not ‘good’ meaning ‘good’ but ‘good’ meaning ‘great’.
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