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Spank Rock and Benny Blanco - Bangers & Cash

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Artist: Spank Rock and Benny Blanco

Album: Bangers & Cash

Label: Downtown

Review date: Nov. 26, 2007

In the ’80s, the Miami rap group 2 Live Crew existed as a regional novelty act, sublimating profound, misogynistic frustration into loudmouthed, shit-talking hedonism. As infectious as its relentless dance beats often were, 2LC would hardly be remembered if it weren’t for the alliance of left- and right-wing censorship advocates that recast its uneven porn-rap opus As Nasty As They Wanna Be as a hot-selling generational rebel yell. The state of Florida could throw 2 Live in jail for demanding some head, but it took Dr. Dre and Suge Knight to make them irrelevant. By ’93, the glossy ultraviolence of The Chronic made the party-hearty aggression of “We Want Some Pussy” sound quaint. As the first round of ’90s babies has risen to cultural dominance, 2 Live is revered for its jokey quaintness more than for any paradigm-shattering potential its aural Hustler cartoons ever had.

When the East Coast club sensation Spank Rock released his cheeky, tech-savvy party record YoYoYoYoYo in ’06, he was unimaginatively dismissed as “a hipster Luther Campbell.” Aside from a broad misunderstanding of how 2 Live delegated duties among its membership (Uncle Luke was a cheerleading impresario who couldn’t rap his way out of the ’86 Bears – the sadistic Brother Marquis and the goofy Fresh Kid Ice did most of the rapping), this spoke to a lack of common reference points for party rap since the gangstas took over. With its detached vocals, lyrical abstractions and adventurous tracks, Spank Rock’s record had little in common with As Nasty As They Wanna Be beyond a quota of cheap jokes and fat asses – and how long ago did the latter come out, exactly? But like a lot of ’90s babies, Spank Rock must’ve grown up associating 2 Live with a certain juvenile notion of adult freedom. He and DJ Benny Blanco still dig the Crew enough to behave like a novelty act through the 17 minutes of this fun, frivolous tribute EP.

These five tracks structure themselves loosely around brief Crew samples. They borrow the Crew’s shouting, drooling ethos, but don’t indulge too heavily in the undercurrent of short-dicked rage – between the stripper-baiting dude verses, a female rapper chimes in to remind us that the ladies’ sexuality can be just as predatory as the fellas’. The tracks (particularly the ominous, speed-shifting “Bitch”) are, if not thinking as hard as most of the YoYoYoYoYo backdrops, at least much more of their time than of the Crew’s. The raps occasionally wink at the roundly despised Brooklyn ironists who’ll inevitably eat this shit raw (one “classic bitch… lives in Chelsea” when she’s not crashing debauched dance parties); Spank has always had plenty of fun at their literal and metaphorical expense… somebody’s got to. And after all these years of trap-rap and nervous, circular sociological arguments, the consequence-free absurdity of Bangers & Cash makes it a comforting equalizer, both in spite of and because of its immediate irrelevance.

By Emerson Dameron

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