My mother always told me that if I don’t have anything nice to say, then I shouldn’t say anything at all. If I were to follow that advice while reviewing Take a Bite Outta Rhyme: A Rock Tribute to Rap, I’d be just about finished now.
The problem is the list of performers on the record would lead you to believe that the disc is worth your $15. There’s Fred Durst (I really like Limp Bizkit), Sevendust (like ‘em), Everlast (big fan), Bloodhound Gang, and Fun Lovin’ Criminals. Then, the song list contains some of my favorites: Run-DMC’s “Sucker MC’s” (a classic), “My Mind’s Playing Tricks On Me” by the Geto Boys, and a song from the Holy Grail of hip-hop, “Microphone Fiend” from Eric B and Rakim’s Paid in Full LP. Potential for a match made in musical Heaven, right? Think again. For the most part, Take a Bite Outta Rhyme: A Rock Tribute to Rap sounds like someone left a tape recorder on in the suburbs and let all the “cool” kids come by and “drop some dope rhymes”. It’s talking loud, but for the most part, it’s saying nothing.
The album opens with Public Enemy’s “Bring the Noise”, from their 1988 masterpiece It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, as interpreted by Staind featuring Fred Durst and DJ Lethal of Limp Bizkit. As I stated earlier, I am a big fan of Durst and his group, but this cut sounds like a half-hearted attempt to fulfill a contract obligation. Then there’s the fact that this song has already been covered by Anthrax (who did a much better job, I might add). Ironically, Chuck D of Public Enemy penned the liner notes, which leads one to wonder if they let him hear the song before he agreed to write the liner notes.
The next bastardization comes from the Lordz of Brooklyn featuring Everlast and Stoned Soul with their performance of “Sucker MC’s” by Run DMC. Again, I have always been down with Everlast, from his stint with Ice T’s Rhyme Syndicate (remember “I Got the Knack”?), to House Of Pain, to his solo work, but this is Run-DMC! The country/folk rock singing thing may work for Whitey Ford’s music, but when used to re-work a hip-hop classic the result is three and a half minutes of audio garbage.
The disc continues its boring yet painfully annoying grind with barely tolerable cuts from Insane Clown Posse, Bloodhound Gang, Kottonmouth Kings, Dope, Driver, Factory 81 and Nonpoint. To quote the Grinch who stole Christmas, it’s just a bunch of noise, noise, noise, noise.
There are a few good moments, however. Dynamite Hack’s easy-listening version of Eazy-E’s “Boyz N the Hood” is always good for a laugh, because the group doesn’t take themselves seriously (unlike most of the other groups on the disc). Fun Lovin’ Criminals’ version of “Microphone Fiend” by Eric B and Rakim will cause heads to bob, due to the laid-back, pimped out bass line, and the fact that lead singer Huey’s monotone delivery almost reminds you of Rakim’s. The Jerky Boys’ “BAMM!” skit shows up as a hidden bonus track (good for another laugh), and the high point of the album comes from Mindless Self Indulgence, and their high-energy, multi-tempo version of Method Man’s “Bring the Pain”. If the other artists put as much feeling into their songs as Mindless Self Indulgence did, the disc may have gotten a better review. But they didn’t.
Also notably missing was the dreaded “N” word, a staple in at least six of the original versions of songs performed here. I figured it was just a smart move on the part of the producers, giving the artists covered on this CD one less reason to storm the offices of Republic Records and riot.
While four songs is usually reason enough for me to buy or recommend a disc, Take a Bite Outta Rhyme: A Rock Tribute to Rap gets no props here. Spend your $15 on something else. If someone gives this CD to you, drop it off at your local used record store. I know I will.
For more information, go to www.takeabiteouttarhyme.com.