By Steve Weinstein
By Bryan Bierman
By Lindsey Rhoades
By Chaz Kangas
By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Jena Ardell
By Jesse Sendejas Jr.
By Katherine Turman
Afroman, as his name kinda hints, is a hero. His archvillain, Universal, is an evil empire bent on conquering the world with an army of bling-blinging Southern and Midwestern rappers. First, Cash Money from New Orleans, then Nelly and Co. from St. Louis. Just last year, though clueless about how to low-ride his vato-ass into mainstream radio, Universal drafted South Park Mexican out of Houston. ("Will they stop at nothing?!") Afroman, originally a Los Angeles native, relocated to quiet Hattiesburg, Mississippi, to subvert Universal's wicked scheme: sign anything that moves units. He sparked a local buzz with some of his homegrown material, and as expected, Universal minions appeared in a cloud of red smoke to claim him as one of their own.
At first listen, The Good Times plays as amateurishly as you might expect considering its hurried, conscienceless origins. Without the benefit of even a Mannie Fresh, a Timbaland, or any musically adept sidekick, Afroman is left to support his clownish, old-school rapping and warped doo-wop with a basic arsenal of guitar, drum machine, and pilfered influences. ("Hey, Afroman, Too $hort's on the phone! He wants his shtick back.") Specifically, "Crazy Rap," with its rudimentary bass, handclaps, and punchline-heavy tales of worldwide sexual conquest, is just $hort's "Cocktales," international-style: "I met this lady from Japan/Never made love to an African," he boasts. "I fucked her once, I fucked her twice/I ate that pussy like shrimp-fried rice." And so on. Afroman follows "Crazy Rap" with the equally crass "She Won't Let Me . . . " and the hazily blasphemous "Hush," thus affecting a convincing smokescreen of utter immaturity.
The rest of The Good Times revolves around Afroman slinging yay and inhaling his profits, but he laces his crop with something few of his high-living rap peers care for: clear-cut consequence. Universal publicists calling "Because I Got High" a "cautionary" tale reek of bullshit until Afroman goes penniless because of his ganja addiction in "Tumbleweed." And then sweats his drinking problem in "Let's All Get Drunk": "I hope I don't wreck when my vision gets blurry, sober up looking at an all-white jury." "Palmdale," the collection's grimmest offering, is a semi-autobiographical anti-drug, stay-in-school anthem where Afroman sits in a lonely jail cell and laments getting an "F-plus in basic math." The 10 tracks on The Good Times aren't much of a 12-step programhe never suggests just saying "no"but he seems to care enough about the kids to countermand his record label's capitalist, materialist directives. Now, doesn't that make you feel good? Or, at least, better about loving that stupid song?