Baby Elephant: Turn My Teeth Up

A little background: those that somehow don’t know Prince Paul by name should know him by his work as a member of Stetasonic and as a producer on De La Soul’s 3 Feet High and Rising. Paul’s gone on to produce comedy albums with Chris Rock and work with the RZA as part of Gravediggaz. He and long-time collaborator Don Newkirk—who has also worked with De La Soul as well as 3rd Bass— have joined together with Bernie Worrell (of Parliament/Funkadelic and new-wave pioneers Talking Heads) to form Baby Elephant. The trio works as a one-off supergroup brought together for Turn My Teeth Up (Godforsaken Music), an album that’s difficult to categorize but definitely benefits from the deep history that each of its musicians bring to the table.While Turn My Teeth Up is effectually a Hip-Hop instrumental album, it’s ultimately far broader than just that. “Even Stranger” is a dark and menacing reminder of Prince Paul’s horrorcore days, sounding like an album cut from a Wu-Tang project. In a bit of a contrast, “How Does the Brain Wave” leans more towards a free-flowing form of house and “Cool Runnins” brings in yet another style with a funk tinged reggae dub that breaks down into a space-aged Victorian waltz at the last minute. To put it simply, there’s a lot going on here, but due to the talents of the musicians, all of these various influences blend together as if they had never been apart.While the work is a shining example of what Hip-Hop can be when treated with the same attention to detail as jazz or classical pieces, at the risk of sounding elitist, the album is not for everyone. If for no other reason than that Turn My Teeth Up is an instrumental album, it isn’t necessarily built for the causal listener. The music is dense and demands the listener’s attention to fully appreciate, and while some of it is bright and upbeat, none of it is light or recreational.Those who are fans of Psychoanalysis or Handsome Boy Modeling School will be more than satisfied with Baby Elephant and those who have no idea what those things are may not. Turn My Teeth Up is a fairly academic experience, and despite the fact that it’s very well done, it has a specific audience. If you are in that group though, don’t let this one slip through the cracks.SOUNDCHECK:Baby Elephant “Even Stranger”Baby Elephant f/ Shock G “Plainfield”