Artist: The BeatnutsTitle: Milk MeRating: 3 StarsReviewed by: Robert DeGracia
The Beatnuts have been running mates even before the Hip-Hop renaissance. Constantly feeding true gold to the crate digger and DJ, less heralded duo Psycho Les and Junkyard Juju have never been elected as Latin Hip-Hop presidents, although they have been campaigning longer than Pun, Fat Joe, et. al. Instead, Milk Me (Penalty) serves as another Beatnut act of youthful defiance; their Queens laden stone crazy formula has invaded the most insane psycho wards for two decades.
As their lyrics have consistently wavered not far from cyclical elements of drugs, sex, and money, the ‘Nuts have never struggled with establishing content. They’ve historically counterbalanced an apathetic swagger and “don’t give a f###” attitude with a Latin machismo. As Juju professes in “Madness”, “I do this for the love, for the money and the drugs, I do this just to hear it in the clubs, Go head brush your shoulders off lady ass nigg*z, sit back and listen to some crazy ass nigg*z.”
“Confused Rappers” is a mid-tempo track that stands out on Milk Me, complemented by shadowy sinister piano riffs, complete with twisting transformer scratches and flattering flares from the Xecutioners’ Grandmaster Roc Raider. The ‘Nuts get relentless in their attack at “sweet cheeks” J-Lo and the Trackmasters, for their no-thank you non-accredited beat-stripping a la “Jenny on the Block”. As Juju spits that he is the one who “helped get her the Grammy”, he continues by slashing at her, “Getting all the little Latin girls to buy it, when you really can’t sing, and you’re no Salyma Hayek/ I don’t hate you I just want you to know that, you’re producer bit the whole Live D off my show DAT.”
The Beatnuts production never fails. Their samples are reflections of veteran crate diggers, manufacturing creatively Latin rhythmic tune-age. The ‘Nuts pull out their trademark pocket flutes and dance behind DITC veteran A.G. in “It’s Nothing”. Other key pairings include “Hot”, a catchy Part Two to “Turn it Up” that serves as another ‘Nuts and Greg Nice collabo; fully composed with their famed horns and staccato kicks, the track translates typical Beatnut trapeze and trampoline circus sounds into instant beat wizardry.
There are a few uninspired tracks that fade in and out throughout the album. A few questionables like “U Nahmsayin”, sounds like an obese version of Rah Digga’s “Break Fool”; its gluttonous non-moving drum pattern turns Freeway’s usual fluidity into an un-syncopated flow that waddles; the droning “We Don’t Give a F###” has mysterious intentions, and an ode to a Happy Days’ flashback, “Find us in the back of the Club” featuring Akon, is a complete eye-crosser that makes listeners struggle to make sense of what’s exactly rocking around the clock.
While Milk Me is not the answer to hip-hop’s listening woes, it is no indication of the artist. The Beatnuts refined sound remains historic, reliant on a timeless infamy that marks their stature well beyond their successes during hip-hop’s heyday. Blatant in their intention of appealing to a certain audience has never changed; whether that works for or against them is the outstanding question. If listeners can stomach the Beatnuts’ “don’t give a f*ck” nuance, you’ll find more to this album than just sour milk.