Straight Outta Humboldt

Artist: PotluckTitle: Straight Outta HumboldtRating: 2 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Paine

While Dr. Dre admitted that he didn't "smoke weed or 'sess'" on Straight Outta Compton, Potluck is unashamed of their green fingers on Straight Outta Humboldt (Suburban Noize). The Southern California duo of 1-Ton and UnderRated enter their third album with an impressive list of guests pulling from several sides of Hip-Hop, but whatever compelling messages Potluck has to offer are lost in a cloud of blunt smoke.

Potluck's theme is best captured with The Luniz-assisted "Mary Jane". Numskull disappoints as the Bay veteran repeats rhymes while kicking a tired female/weed metaphor. 1-Ton shows a bit more rhyme agility, in his faster flow about his dynamic relationship to the plant. Joined by E-40 and Bosko, "U Ain't That Fine" is another Northwest collaboration. The song, using a Roger Troutman-like talk-box, is a dedication to homely groupies with attitudes. Although 40 Water brings ad-libbing charm to the record, it still comes across as imitation G-Funk. In between the keg-party anthems, there are still some songs that show Potluck's experience. "One Day", for instance, is a blue-collar anthem about maintaining despite drab surroundings. Here, the group speaks to the audience, rather than trying to win them over with cool-points.

UnderRated mans the production for the bulk of Straight Outta Humboldt. "My Life" and "Our History" are examples of the San Diego-born producer favoring chipmunk soul. Without much melody behind the samples, the technique appears amateurish at best. "U Ain't That Fine" and "Welcome 2 Humboldt" utilize more regional styles of production in G-Funk and Crunk respectively. Neither succeeds in creating a comfortable canvas for the group to work with. Potluck's music in all forms stays energetic. To their credit, this is a group that not only speaks of the party lifestyle, but makes music for it.

While artists like Cypress Hill, The Luniz, and B-Legit have always made marijuana-themed rap successful, they have also worked the angles in their favor. Potluck's third album fails to cleverly add on to this tradition. Lyrically, no challenges are taken while the beats fail to show professional grade. There is no "I Got 5 On It" or "Hits From the Bong", instead the audience gets disposable verses. With the breakup of N.W.A., Dr. Dre changed his tune with The Chronic; after this dismal effort, perhaps Potluck will change theirs.