Monday, October 13, 2008
Wrecking ball nuts.
If I told you there was an album released in 2000 that featured production from the Neptunes on four songs and Earthtone III (which is just OutKast and Mr. DJ) on another three songs, you probably would not believe me if I said it had been pretty unfairly overlooked over the course of time. Especially considering it went 3x platinum and spawned one of the biggest hits of the year, and one of the other singles featured OutKast. Yet, such is the case for Mystikal's Let's Get Ready, even though everyone knows the song "Shake Ya Ass."
During the time of this album's release, my understanding of Mystikal's previous musical output was mostly limited to songs like "It Ain't My Fault," which besides Silkk the Shocker, was pretty awesome. Imagine my surprise when, before starting high school, I heard and saw the video for "Shake Ya Ass." It was a totally different sound compared to what I had heard from him previously, and the video didn't hurt either. Ultimately, I figured that the album would find Mystikal back to his old No Limit ways with features from amazingly awful rappers. I was very wrong.
Obviously, anytime you get production from late 90's - early 2000s Neptunes for almost a third of an album, your bound to be interested by the beats at least. Thankfully, it is more than the beats that are engaging. Kind of like Backbone, Mystikal has a very dynamic tone of rapping, it's just that, unlike Mr. Fat Face, The Braids knows when to accentuate his phrasing at the right point. This works really well with the Neptunes' off the wall production, so that even when Mystikal spends an entire verse naming family members on "Family," it's hard to stop listening. I wanted to know who came next.
What really surprised me about this album was how weird and insular it is. Though "Shake Ya Ass" and "Danger" work alone and in the context of the album, they don't really represent the tone that Mystikal seemed to be going for. It's not so much that it is a personal album as it is a definitive portrait of Michael Tyler as an artist. While someone like Brandon Soderberg is talking about post-lyricism and its roots in the verses on Andre 3000, Mystikal is forgotten in all this talk. He will change is tone of voice at will, rap about seemingly weird and random topics with a bunch of tossed off punchlines, and then come back with some emotional punch, like "Murderer III" where he finds and deals with his sister's killer.
Though the songs with the Neptunes are all really good, Mystikal really shines on production from collaborator KLC and Earthtone III. Just listen to "Neck Uv Da Woods," which would have sounded right at home on Stankonia or "Mystikal Fever," which sounds like a precursor to the great "Pussy Crook." It's a shame he got locked up, because after hearing this album, he sounded like he had enough energy and support from the right camps to make even more great music.
Click here for The Braids
Click here for Mystikal Fever