Local Rotation

Roll up a phat one for this playa "hatta."

MC Breed
Rare Breed
Albatross Records

MC Breed: The name is familiar, and for good reason. In 1991, with former partner DFC, the Flint, Michigan, native created one of the first bump-and-bounce anthems of the new decade, "Ain't No Future in Yo' Frontin'." With its flustering beats and Breed's prowling wordplay, the song seemed like the first hip-hop tune made expressly to play in Jeeps and low-riders. Though he scored a commercial smash, Breed never again found heavy-rotation success with his subsequent work. Thus Breed has become the living embodiment of an underground rapper, almost to the point of barely registering on the radar.

After releasing a series of low-key albums throughout the '90s, Breed hooked up with Houston's Albatross label to drop his latest, Rare Breed. Coincidentally (or maybe not) the album is filled with all the things Bayou City listeners have come to expect from (and, dare I say, cherish in) their rap. Breed touches on all the usual subjects: getting the money, smoking the weed, hitting them switches, blasting those haters and talking up dem bitches. The content is practically spelled out in such balla-appealing song titles as "Roll Up a Phat One," "Playa Hatta," "Money Make the World" and the ever-romantic "First U F*ck Me."

Even though the lyrical content is about as played out as a Sega Dreamcast on Christmas afternoon, the music that accompanies it mostly hits the mark. "Roll Up a Phat One" may be about, well, rolling up a phat one, but the breezy, Bay Area-style bounce that permeates the song is practically blissful. "Playa Hatta" achieves a slow-grooving cool as Breed talks of, you guessed it, playa hating. Even Breed's get-me-a-ho interludes, "I Don't Give a F*ck" and "Put It Down," boast brief passages of laid-back funk. The sonority of these tracks is so engrossing, you find yourself daydreaming that you're listening to a great album.

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Too bad you're not. It's even more unfortunate that there are no liner notes; it's impossible to tell who's responsible for these beats and effects. Only Jazze Pha, who has produced and performed on many albums, including Breed's 1996 effort, To Da Beat Ch'all, is acknowledged on one track. As for the rest, who knows?

Rare Breed is like a piece of fake-ass jewelry in a Cartier box. No matter what it says on the outside and no matter how much it shines, it's not as valuable as you think.

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