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-naz show 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 riff—an almost Asian whistle tone—but 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.