Are you in touch with your inner 12-year-old? Rev Run sure is, and if you are too, you'll love Distortion.
Virtually all the lines he hollers sound like they're punctuated with multiple exclamation points, and the Hasidic vampire look he's sporting seems like something a seventh-grader would think was really cool. And like 12-year-olds everywhere, this album alternates between the silly ("High and Mighty Joe") and the charmingly boisterous, as with "Mind on the Road." This sucker pounds like pre-Zaire George Foreman -- Run's bellowed rhymes and Joan Jett's "I Love Rock and Roll" riff and feline, growled "Owwww" go together like gumbo and Tabasco.
As you might expect from the Rev, familiar samples, often from rock records, abound, and as on "Mind on the Road," sometimes they work very well. A couple of lines from Blondie's "Rapture" pop up to good effect on the rare laid-back tune "Take a Tour," and the Rev and co-producer Whiteboy amaze with the use of the Hendrix-like guitar solo from, yes, Black Oak Arkansas's "Hot and Nasty" on the title track.
Elsewhere, as on the musically workmanlike if lyrically heartfelt tribute to Jam Master Jay, "Home Sweet Home" (which employs the superstale "Sweet Home Alabama"), they don't work as well. The riff is both worn out and far too jaunty for the song's subject matter.
Lyrically, Run is looking back on the foolishness of youth with regret and looking forward to hitting the road. And, again with the 12-year-old stuff, he invests a few tracks talking about what a great rapper he is, most memorably on "Take a Tour": "Ay yo Tips'in Toes'es / And fly poses / I'm resurrecting respect like I'm Moses / Flow'es Boast'es / Def just like Mos is / And caked out like Rev just bought Hostess."
So buy this record, if only for the preadolescent in your life. Or the one you keep in your soul.
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.