P. Diddy, Eminem, Nelly, Wyclef Jean, Lauryn Hill, and MeShell Ndegeocello

Beat Box

Phases and Stages

The radio plays 'em, they're on MTV and in the clubs, and at some point, we're humming them and buying the album. Then, of course, there's the remix. That's old news for Bad Boy producer P. Diddy Combs, 'cause he "invented the remix." Well, maybe not, but his entitlement has produced We Invented the Remix (Bad Boy), a sequel to an entire decade of rehashes, remakes, and remixes of remixes. Priding himself in producing beats that have already been produced, this stale curtain call for the dropped CEO drops the bucket back into a well that's been dry for years. As the curtain falls on one scene, the stage shifts to a sinister Slim Shady, star of The Eminem Show (Aftermath/ Interscope). The show's built around the mischievous mind of Marshall Mathers, as he mangles "White America" and the TRL hand that feeds him with anger, anger, anger. Like an afterschool special about counseling troubled youths, the puny featherweight bully punches pop peers, but never picks on somebody his own size. Opposite for the pop-hop icon Nelly, who's recently sought exile following a feud with Blastmaster KRS-One. Must be all that "Pimp Juice"; I heard they put it into the water in Nellyville (Fo' Reel/Universal), a small, unpopulated town of misogyny, ice, and "40 acres and a pool." "Splurge" and gluttony have replaced the populace of Country Grammar, and "Uh-oh," now Nelly can't go home. The self-proclaimed "No. 1" MC's sophomoric album indulges the good life, purchased on the credit of the listener, but unlike Graceland, don't take this yawning "King's Highway" to Nellyville. It's all a big Masquerade (Columbia), as Wyclef Jean makes his third attempt at shattering the Fugee façade that's left diva-counterpart L. Hill with all the longevity. Still searching to sell that ecleftic sound, Clef continues experimenting with multitudes of cameos and genres that at times work briefly, but mostly don't. Now back to the real Fugee story, an Unplugged (Columbia) Lauryn Hill and her acoustic guitar. Back from tabloid torment and speculation, Hill returns to the stage raw and stripped down. No longer Ms. Educated or Ms. Understood, Hill entertains in an intimate, coffee-shop-open-mic style, which she dictates through seven long interludes well-suited for DVD, but not for an album. Neither Fugee is a real Score. From one scattered diva with a guitar to one well-centered female bassist who got her "priorities 1-6," MeShell Ndegéocello. Neither lady pulls her punches, but on Cookie: The Anthropological Mixtape (Maverick), Ndegéocello hits harder. Heavy in every way, from steamy sexual subject matter to drowning bass-concentrated rhythm, Cookie delves into all genres, from funk to jazz to rock, combining poetics, and then utilizes its entirety to conquer misconceptions on race, sex, politics, and all the alternatives. Most luscious of the bunch, the delectable Cookie can satisfy all sweet teeth.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Music Reviews
Texas Platters
Magna Carda
Ladee (Record Review)

Derek Udensi, March 22, 2019

Sunday ACL Fest 2018 Record Reviews
Travis Scott
Astroworld (Record Review)

Kahron Spearman, Oct. 12, 2018

More by Christopher Coletti
Phases and Stages
Ice Cube
AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted, Death Certificate, The Predator, Lethal Injection (Record Review)

April 4, 2003

Phases and Stages
50 Cent
Get Rich or Die Tryin' (Record Review)

March 28, 2003

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle