By Reed Fischer
By Anna Gulbrandsen
By Jeff Gage
By Stacy Schwartz
By Natalie Gallagher
By Erik Thompson
By Jeff Gage
By Loren Green
Dylan Hicks! My record review! Dylan Hicks! My record review! 612-372-3717! My office line! See how irritating that is? Now imagine that the sentence to follow is really great, that it makes you want to dance or get high or whatever it is that turns you on. (I don't actually have it in me to write such a sentence; recall that you were asked to use your imagination.) Houston rapper Mike Jones is not the first musician to let self-promotion sabotage his record, nor he is the 900th. But when Mike Jones introduces or interrupts nearly every track off Mike Jones's not infrequently bangin' new album by barking his charmingly plain moniker (Mike Jones! My album! Mike Jones! My album!) and the number of the Mike Jones hotline (281-330-8004!), well, Mike Jones is testing us, or at least testing me, which is what I'm most concerned with. Hey, that reminds me: Dylan Hicks! My record review!
In response to Jones's narcissistic hustles and his leave-no-cliché-unturned gender politics (hoes: untrustworthy; deceased grandmother: a good egg) I can only call on the all-time greatest debate-club zinger: Yeah, but still! Put another way, if Bill Frist could rap a bit and line up Salih Williams to produce his record, I might go for that, too. Williams isn't the only studio rat represented here, but his choppy underwater beats bang his production colleagues over the head with a very attractive cast-iron skillet (only Mike B's sweet-like-licorice "Flossin'" can compete).
On "Screw Dat," Williams pieces together a half-dozen or so perfect little elements--a pitched-down vocal sample, a dainty way-up-top keyboard accent, a horn stab, an aloof bass glide, plus the beats-and-bass basics--like a Swiss watchmaker with a good buzz on. For "5 Years from Now," on which Jones goes introspective and vaguely political with pretty good results, he conscripts Rodin's Thinker to make a Jeep beat out of Aphex Twin. Salih Williams! His yodeling-in-Jamaica jam ("Cuttin'") is another successful style merger, and the haunting single "Still Tippin'," co-produced with Michael "5000" Watts and featuring show-stealing guest rappers Slim Thug and Paul Wall, makes me want to kick back in a black leather chair like that windswept Memorex guy, grab a 16-ounce bottle of raspberry-flavored carbonated water, and maybe give that Mike Jones hotline a jingle. --Dylan Hicks! My byline! Dylan Hicks! My byline!
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