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Mr. Hyde - Barn of the Naked Dead

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Artist: Mr. Hyde

Album: Barn of the Naked Dead

Label: Psycho+Logical

Review date: Oct. 3, 2004

Psycho+Logical is easily one of the strangest independent labels around; led by Brooklyn-based slasher rapper and whoremonger Necro (more porn than music is sold from his official website), the violent little outfit sports a lineup of like-minded horror-core rappers like Ill Bill, Sabac, and now Mr. Hyde. Still, even in their blood-drenched niche, Psycho+Logical follows the rules of many a successful label. If Psycho+Logical were, say, Roc-A-Fella, former boxer and Necro protégé Mr. Hyde would be its Memphis Bleek: around the big man (Jay-Z/Necro) long enough to get his name somewhat known, albeit not the most talented or highly anticipated member of the label (Beanie Siegel/Ill Bill). Barn of the Naked Dead, thus, must serve as much as Hyde’s debut as another Psycho+Logical product, promoting the label as much as Hyde. And strangely enough, in Barn, Psycho+Logical ultimately comes off better than Hyde himself.

No believers will be made by a listen of Barn of the Naked Dead, because Hyde isn’t exactly reinventing the razor-covered wheel here: lines like “Dedicated to sin, like separating your limbs/ desecrating your skin by decorating with pins” are the pinnacle in clever wordplay in an album not only obsessed, but delighted with human suffering. Needless to say, there’s really only so many mentions of AIDS-infected needles, separated chests and colostomy bags one really needs to hear, and the skit-padded 18-track album does definitely constitute too much of a very bad thing. But there are a few tracks where Hyde isn’t thinking about how beautiful an exploding jugular is, and it’s no surprise that one of them, the homeless anthem “Bums,” is a highlight, a song that even manages to throw in a piece of Crystal Waters’ “Gypsy Woman (She’s Homeless)” amid Hyde’s garbage-covered narrative: “Eat a three course meal that I found in debris/ and now I’m off to the park, ‘cause water fountains are free.”

Mr. Hyde is a raspy-voiced shouter whose act grows tedious around the middle of the album: what’s interesting to observe is how Necro managed to make a decent record in spite of the supposed star of the show. As a producer, Necro may stick to one tone — blood-curdling horror — but he has an impressive number of ways to set that tone, from blaxploitation groove (“Street Veteran Pt. 2”) to creepy xylophone (“Knife In Your Spine”) and music box sounds (“Say My Name,” made downright terrifying by handing the hook to a child, Little Britney).

Take interesting sounds, add an abundance of guest verses - including four from Necro and three from Ill Bill - and you may forget whose album this is. And in this case, that’s a good thing. Like Scott Storch’s productions for Pink and Christina Aguilera, Necro’s work in making passably good music out of a mediocre talent is the sort that doesn’t get much acclaim, but perhaps should. Barn of the Naked Dead is no classic, but like a lamely-plotted horror flick with special effects by Tom Savini, some people will end up liking it a lot anyway. Sick, sick people.

By Josh Drimmer

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