By Gili Malinsky
By Bob Ruggiero
By Hilary Hughes
By Peter Gerstenzang
By David R. Adler
By Devon Maloney
By Brian McManus
By Jessica Hopper
The YoungBloodZ proclaim, "If you don't give a damn, we don't give a fuck, HEY!" over a tune as pretty as Prokofiev. Despite their boisterousness, they're the crunkers with the lightest touch. The raps in Drankin' Pat-nazshow dexterity in accenting offbeats and snaking across measure bars, the beats have a fine time ricocheting around in their lottery bucket, and the accompaniment uses crunk's typically gorgeous minor-key motifs (there's as much of this Euroromanticism in Southern hip-hop as in dark metal, though with more of a suspense-movie feel, uneasy anticipation rather than the trudge through the sludge).
But for all the YoungBloodZ' agility, they feel a need to sound hard and menacing, which can get ponderous over the length of a song. Actually, the single "Damn" is pretty great as is, and has deservedly leaped Top 10. It's got thick-throated Lil Jon as guest, and it follows his pattern: Compose a bare, eerie melody, wrap gang shouts and kegger cheers around it, imitate a bullfrog, and start bouncing. "Sean Paul" has a beautiful riffan almost Asian whistle tonebut gets tiring without Jon's rah-rah to buoy it up. Too much darkness-darkness and not enough euphoria.
Drankin' Patnaz is fascinating anyway, as a putative party record. (Cleaned up for radio, the rap goes "If you don't give a damn, don't throw it up," or something. Hurl your lunch in the air, and wave it like you just don't care.) Oddly, a couple of strong tracks are built on the 1990 international house sound ("international house" meaning not the old W.C. Fields flick, but the "Get Ready for This" shrieking-brakes tone that was one of the first widely used house-music clichés outside Chicago) and feature women rappers who slink around enticingly while the guys remain grave.
So strange: "Can you lean low to the floor, can you work it, can you work it, let me know," spoken in ominous tones appropriate to "As Nazi troops approached the tank-axle factory at Minsk, the gallant Russian women stuck to their posts, and production continued 24 hours a day." We live in an interesting world.