"Ass shakin' competition champ / Ooh that pussy gets damp." So begins "Backyard Betty," the first track on Spank Rock's full-length debut. Much like his breakout single, last year's "Put that Pussy on Me," it's a bass-rattling, ass-dropping, beat-banging party-starter big on well-placed thuds and DJ Assault/Mike Jones-like repetition. Along with the opening phrase quoted above, the words "I'd tap the ho" will burrow their way into your skull while they're massaged by a computer/keyboard lick oddly reminiscent of Kraftwerk's "Pocket Calculator."
We've all heard that old Ecclesiastical chestnut time and again: "There's nothing new under the sun." It's a simple statement, easy to remember and, most important, true. But with its simplicity comes a distinct loophole: What if a hodgepodge of "old things" were combined to form something, while not wholly original, umm, newish?
For instance, there are instrumental phrases on Yoyoyoyoyo that could slip comfortably into a Depeche Mode song ("Bump"), even if King David Gahan most likely would never choose to sing lines such as "Like the Kama Sutra I'll hit it from every angle!" or "I ride like Kelly Bundy, yo, I keep that shit nasty," in the words of guest MC Amanda Blank.
In many ways, the fantastic Yoyoyoyoyo defies description. Lyrics along the lines of "Slam back that Sparks" suggest it's a rap album marketed to white hipsters, but there are simply too many electro flourishes, thick new-wave keys and Miami bass nods to stuff it into such a cluttered drawer.
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Perhaps this is what Spank means when he raps on the mind-bending banger "Rick Rubin," "Is this good shit, or is it just too slick / Or is it off key, is it just too hip?" Yes, Spank, it is indeed all of those things. He continues: "Is it not enough, is it just too much / Is it out of touch or is it the touch / Does it get you movin' or is it too confusin'?" Once again, check the box marked "all of the above."
The music on Yoyoyoyoyo is such an elaborate stage set, a cynic might believe it's been constructed to distract. Not so. Spank, as an MC, delivers his rhymes with a silky ease that recalls Timbaland's long underrated partner-in-rhyme Magoo, had his DNA been fused with that of Q-Tip. When he's truly unleashed, as on "What It Look Like," it's easy to see dude's got skills. He's a hype man la Flavor Flav, capable of getting the party started, but versatile enough to release his inner Chuck D. And hornier than Luther Campbell.
Spank's nod to Houston, "Screwville, USA," is a slowed, lazy blast that single-handedly justifies an otherwise silly genre. When Spank's halftime flow implores the listener to "Puff the herb" and "Sip the purple," you can practically feel the hit in your lungs and the syrup on your lips.
If nothing else, Yoyoyoyoyo proves that while there may be nothing unexplored, there are certainly new ways to look at old shit.