By Jena Ardell
By Brian McManus
By Chaz Kangas
By Sound of the City
By Peter Gerstenzang
By Katherine Turman
By Chris Kornelis
By Brian McManus
After a half-year build on indie label TVT, Lil Jon and the Ying Yang Twins are ruling the hip-hop zeitgeist with "Get Low," the low of which isn't just dance-'n'-sex low, it's Baker-Robie low, Miami-bass low, car-boom low, down-into-the-whirlpool low.
As for Me & My Brother, the Ying Yang Twins' own LP, it stays accessible while being as dense with overshifts and undertows as any music I've ever heard and sounding more committed to the ping and whirr of electro than even New Orleans bounce is. And it pulls in movietrack-doomtrack moods while maintaining the feel of a whoot-whoomp yuck-it-all-up and blat-till-you're-blotto party. So the Timbaland-Gotti genius stuff that 10 minutes ago sounded state-of-the-art now feels bare in comparisonproducer Beat-In-Azz runs his tides and eddies deeper. Though maybe Lil Jon's LP does better with the gang shouts.
The lyrics are basic raunch and slurp that only get complicated by accident, no deliberate attempts to shake up the complexities à la Eminem or Black Flag ("I've got a six-pack and nothing to do/I've got a six-pack so I don't need you"). But the complexities are there nonetheless, of their own accord: "The nigga's so drunk he'll fuck the floorfuck the floor?fuck the floor," on the heels of which achievement they tell us to "Put your middle finger up, if you don't give a fuck/Get your head back down and finish the cup." The idea is old hat but still potent, to link being alive and defiant with drinking yourself into dysfunction and stupor (being alive equaling being comatose), though here this profound paradox is but another bubble in their barrel of yucks. "Naggin' " is an obvious and safe single, with the melody to "There's a place in France where the girls wear paper pants," which they get unexpected beauty out of by way of deep-growl voices and quasi-baroque keyboards, not to mention unintended poetry by substituting "kiss my pants" for "kiss my ass" in the radio version. But the best tracks are the dense party throbbers like "What's Happnin!" and "Grey Goose" and "Hanh!"the latter of which seems to be an eccentric spelling of "WAAAAAAH!!!" In "The Georgia Dome" they lay down some crazy Strunk for the hipsters: "I smoke by myself. I drink by myself. I fuck these 'hos by my goddamn self." (Meaning, like, without a spotter?)
Drinking by yourself: What an admirable thing to brag about! They do it in two different songs. What's so bizarre is that however you interpret "by myself," it doesn't work for the entire passage. It can't mean "all alone," since, while that applies to the smoking and drinking (as if to say "I can party even when no one else is around"), it doesn't do for the 'ho-fuckin'. But neither can it mean "without any help" (e.g., "I'll fuck all the 'hos myself, rather than fucking A though L and leaving M through Z for my assistant"), since one generally doesn't ask for aid in drinking and smoking. "Here, um, sir, will you pull open my mouth for me, so that I can get this liquor in, please?" (Their previous album contains the explanation "I was born by my goddamn self," which is also incorrect, as he's forgetting the stork, among others.) The doing-it-alone stuff might be the ultimate way to pretend that you can desire yet remain unbeholden and invulnerable to the person you're desiring (which is what hip-hop's P.I.M.P. thing is all about, really). And maybe to the extent that these guys are aware that they're alone, they're aware of the pretense.
The only track that dulls out is a spare one called "Hard," which stays ghetto-real and Glock-tough in its suspense-soundtrack way, with boring words to match. " 'Hard' is a dick that's erect." Yeah, and hard's the floor you're fuckin'. So what? I suppose that it's just two sides of the same shtick, to think that you're most real when you're dead to sentiment and that you're most alive when you're dead to the world, but fortunately these guys know which side their shtick is buttered on. So they stick to the sunny side of lifeor the party side of death, at any rateand make most everyone else sound immobile.